Gov. Inslee inaugurates new Cashmere business center

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CASHMERE — Gov. Jay Inslee helped cut the ribbon Monday on the new Cashmere Mill District Business Park, welcoming two growing manufacturers to the area.

Fruit label-maker Hurst International and locally-grown liquor company Blue Spirits Lake Chelan are the tenants of the 33,000-square foot business complex, located on an old lumber mill site that required $6.6 million worth of toxic waste cleanup before it could be redeveloped.

Inslee told the noontime crowd that innovation and agriculture go hand in hand to help drive the state’s economy.

“This is such a great job that I get to go around and celebrate the tremendous, dynamic growth that we have in the state of Washington,” the governor said. “I get to go to places like Boeing and Microsoft and Amazon – large employers. But the most exciting growth is the kind of growth right here in Cashmere, where we have the joining of high tech with the agricultural industry. And to me, this dynamic that is going on, particularly in central and eastern Washington, of joining the world’s best land with the world’s best sunshine with the world’s cleanest water with new technology where we can gain new markets around the world, is truly exciting to me.”

Ari Lichtenberg, president and CEO of California-based Hurst International, said his company has worked for years to establish a manufacturing presence in central Washington. The firm first looked at Wenatchee, but found industrial space there was limited, he said.

“We wantto show the community that we’re committed to this territory,” Lichtenberg said. “In this business, and the agricultural business, it’s about relationships.”

Hurst creates the tiny labels that adorn individual pieces of fruit when they arrive in supermarkets. The Cashmere facility alone, with a staff of five, will be able to produce between 10 and 15 million labels a day, Lichtenberg says.

Blue Spirits started in the garage of Lake Chelan resident Jeffrey Soehren and his wife, and now sells bottled liquor in retail stores around the Northwest. It will use its Mill Park space for warehousing, distribution and processing. The Port of Chelan County purchased the 32.5-acre mill site in 2008. It was previously home to a lumber mill for roughly 30 years starting in the 1940s, and about 24,000 tons of wood waste and petroleum-laden soil had to be removed under a state Deparment of Ecology remediation project.