Pamplin Media Group – Salt & Straw may leave Portland for safety reasons

RV fire outside company headquarters is the last straw for iconic local ice cream maker.

A Rose City staple could soon be packing up and leaving the city, with the continued crime and drug crisis to blame.

“I moved back to Portland to start the company here,” said Kim Malek, the CEO and co-founder of Salt & Straw. “Being from Portland is part of the soul of our company, but unless they can do something quickly to help me and figure out a way to keep my employees safe, we can’t stay here.”

Malek said the straw that broke the camel’s back came earlier this week, when an RV caught on fire in front of the company’s southeast Portland production facility, causing a transformer to blow and knocking out power to the area.

“We had team members on-site, working, and fortunately they were not injured but they witnessed the whole thing,” Malek said. “It was very traumatic.”

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - An RV caught on fire this week outside Salt & Straw's production facility this in Southeast Portland.Malek said just days before, an employee walking into the facility had a gun pulled on them, adding that her team doesn’t feel safe and is asking Portland and Multnomah County leaders to make a change, and fast, or else they’ll move their headquarters outside of the area.

Following Monday’s RV fire, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler issued a statement calling the Southeast neighborhood near Second Avenue and Ash Street a “work in progress” as they work to remove the garbage, unsanctioned campsites, vehicles and RVs, adding that the incident “demonstrates further the need for safe, monitored, designated camping sites.”

While Malek hasn’t ruled out moving production operations to other metro areas like Beaverton or Clackamas — or even out-of-state, including Vancouver, Washington — she says the company doesn’t want to leave Portland and is hopeful the city and county will find solutions to improve safety and stay.

“If we can come up with a plan quickly, we would hope to stay in the region,” she said.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of Pamplin Media Group.

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