Amy's Kitchen will decide within a month where to expand, with several sites including its current Santa Rosa home still under consideration, the owner said Thursday.
The choice could come down to either Santa Rosa, where the fast-growing organic frozen food processor is outgrowing a complex of industrial buildings, or Medford, Ore., with several potential sites.
"We're looking at some property up there. We're very interested, but we haven't signed a deal yet," said Andy Berliner, who founded Amy's Kitchen with his wife, Rachel. "We're about one month away from knowing what we're doing."
Andy Berliner denied a newspaper report this week that the company has paid a deposit on a Medford site.
"We're looking at different sites with different owners," he said.
Amy's Kitchen officials have said they could save some $4 million a year by expanding in Medford, with much of the savings coming in workers' compensation insurance and energy costs.
The company has been held up as an example of the high cost to do business in California. It has been the focus of lobbying efforts by the governors of California and Oregon, who would both like the company to expand in their state.
Berliner noted Thursday that the latest changes to California's workers' compensation laws and electricity rate reductions for PG&E customers have narrowed the cost gap between the two states.
Further, company officials continue to meet with Santa Rosa city leaders on reducing some city fees that would follow an expansion here, such as water conservation to lower hook-up fees.
"We're in fairly regular communication with them. We have a common goal," said Mayor Sharon Wright. "We will do whatever we can that's responsible to keep them here."
Berliner said the city has done its part. "They've been very helpful if we do go forward with the process here."
For more than a year, Amy's Kitchen officials have talked with suitors in several Western states as they develop a plan to expand and meet growing demand for the more than 100 products the company makes.
With about a 5 percent net profit margin on more than $100 million in annual sales, company officials contend they must lower operating costs to grow.
PG&E made the latest bid to help lower costs so Amy's Kitchen could expand in Santa Rosa. The utility last month proposed a rate break ahead of a similar proposal that would reduce electricity costs for large commercial and industrial customers who otherwise would leave California.
The state Public Utilities Commission must approve the proposal and postponed its decision until December.
That delay has led Amy's Kitchen officials to push back their November deadline one month.