Jorge Fierro is a local business icon with a personality as vibrant and flavorful as his salsa.
He’s the owner of Salt Lake City based Rico Foods and you’ve likely seen his products at Smith’s, Whole Foods or any Associated Food Store in northern Utah.
It all began modestly with Fierro selling salsa and burritos, all from family recipes, at the downtown Farmer’s Market 22 years ago.
“Those are my roots. Those are my customers,” Fierro said. “It just makes my soul happy to be there and to continue the tradition.”
Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, his beans, tortillas, salsas and pre-packaged foods can be found at retailers and restaurants across northern Utah.
And amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Fierro’s sales grew by 30 percent in 2020 as consumers flocked to grocery stores.
But this summer, even with sales boosted by pandemic-led retail sales, Fierro faced a crisis. His rent was rising to an unsustainable level due to economic growth and development in Salt Lake City.
His lease was to expire on August 31st and his business needed to adapt quickly to meet the growing demand. Faced with an opportunity to move his main distribution center and office space, Fierro considered relocation to Murray or West Jordan.
But thanks to the kindness of the Salt Lake City business community and the City’s Business Development Division, Rico Foods has now found a new home in the state’s capital city (945 W Folsom Avenue).
“The City has bent over backwards for me,” Fierro said. “The Business Development team has been with us long before this most recent situation and I couldn’t be happier with their help.”
Roberta Reichgelt, the City’s Local Business and Entrepreneurship Manager, led the efforts to ensure Rico Foods continued to call Salt Lake City home.
“We want to make sure business owners like Jorge can find a home in our city. The small business community is vital to our economic success,” Reichgelt said.
Reichgelt’s team assisted Fierro with business licensing needs and expedited the process to ensure Rico Foods downtime during the move would be minimal.
“Every day a business isn’t operational, they’re losing money. So it’s critical we do what we can to maximize their potential and cut through any red tape that may exist,” Reichgelt said.
Now, Fierro wants to be active in helping other small business owners work with the City to achieve the same goals of finding efficient and affordable office space. He’s also quick to thank those who reached out during his time of need.
“It was overwhelming to hear from people who were offering help to find a new location or to share office space. I can’t thank them enough for their kindness,” Fierro said.
Thanks to the added sales this year, he was able to buy the 7,000 square foot location on Folsom Avenue to streamline his operation and will grow his company from 28 to 36 employees in the coming months. Annual sales are expected to reach $2.5 Million in 2020.
If your small business needs assistance, the Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development is here to help. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on our social media pages.