Success Story
May 28, 2024

Brie All That You Can Brie

SOREDI Helps Oregon Cheese Cave Survive and Thrive

When Mélodie Picard arrived in the small community of Phoenix, Oregon in 2018, she came with a determination to meet a niche, but growing demand for high-quality cheese made in America.

Picard, who immigrated to the United States from France, is a cheesemonger by profession and wanted her store – the Oregon Cheese Cave – to offer the same variety and quality of cheeses one might find in her home region of Normandy.

Picture of gouda cheese
It’s been “gouda” news for the Oregon Cheese Cave in Phoenix, Oregon.

Little did Picard know she’d be starting her new business just 18 months before the global coronavirus pandemic shuttered retail businesses across the country. Compounding the dilemma for the city of Phoenix was a 2020 wildfire that swept through the area, burning thousands of acres and destroying more than 2,000 homes. The Oregon Cheese Cave was directly impacted by the disaster, losing both income and uninsured inventory.  

Despite these challenges, Picard’s business managed to survive and thrive, thanks to her hard work and the intervention of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI), an EDA-designated Economic Development District (EDD) in southern Oregon.

Since 1994, SOREDI has operated an EDA-capitalized Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) that makes loans to businesses that might face difficulty obtaining bank financing. Food and agricultural enterprises are often limited in their ability to tap traditional sources of working capital, so the SOREDI RLF is a critical point of access for enterprises in Oregon’s Josephine and Jackson counties.  

“We've always been mission-based, and focused on doing the most good with what we have,” explains Colleen Padilla, Executive Director of SOREDI. “Our mission is to not only help businesses but our communities as well.”

A 2022 microloan from SOREDI to the Oregon Cheese Cave allowed Picard to not only emerge from the aftermath of dual disasters, but to triple the size of her store, purchase new coolers, and invite another small business to share her retail unit. The success of the Oregon Cheese Cave has had a follow-on effect on the local economy, allowing Picard to collaborate with other local small businesses, such as the nearby Rogue Creamery, in bringing new artisanal cheese varieties to her store’s shelves.

Since the inception of SOREDI’s RLF program, the EDD has made more than $22 million in loans to businesses in rural southern Oregon.  It has supported 14 new loan clients in just the last year.

“I really enjoy business outreach – learning what a business does and how they do it,” says Terrill Roper, Business Development Loan Manager at SOREDI. “If there’s a need, I like looking at ways SOREDI can help.”

To see how other businesses are utilizing EDA's RLF program to grow their enterprises, visit EDA’s Small Business/RLF Success Stories page.


  • Small Business Development/RLF