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Specialty Mushroom Company to Grow in B.C. with Funding From First West Capital

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwire) -- 12/04/12 -- At a time when buying local is becoming more important to consumers, one company is ready to grow here at home. Helping this B.C. success story is First West Capital, which today announced it has provided funding to Ponderosa Mushrooms for the purchase of its state-of-the-art facilities in Port Coquitlam. Incorporated in 1994, Ponderosa Mushrooms is recognized as one of the most diverse and respected specialty mushroom companies in the industry with an extensive network of field buyers from all over North America.

"Over the past few years, we've seen a steady increase in interest in wild and specialty mushrooms in Canada and the United States," says Joe Salvo, president and founder of Ponderosa Mushrooms. "When the opportunity arose to purchase our facilities, we knew it was the right move and the right time to do so now. Not only is our building designed to suit our business, but it also has sufficient room to accommodate our company's growth."

Today, the mushroom market worldwide is large and well-established, with demand for wild mushrooms remaining high in both Asia and Europe. In North America, there has also been a steady increase in mushroom consumption due to a number of factors including immigration and a growing awareness of their many health benefits.

To meet growing consumer demands, Ponderosa Mushrooms decided to seek funding to purchase their facilities. The building is specially designed to the handle the processing and storage of fresh, dried and frozen mushrooms.

"We were very happy when First West Capital decided to work closely with our other senior lending partner, RBC, to provide the funding needed to help us make this purchase," shares Salvo. "Throughout the process, we were able to interact and work with the entire First West Capital team with ease. They were very well-researched, thorough and flexible, and we were able to finalize the deal in a timely manner."

"It's great to be able to be part of the success of local businesses here in B.C.," says First West Capital vice-president Kristi Miller. "Small and medium-sized businesses like Ponderosa Mushrooms are the back bone of our province's economy. When they succeed, we all succeed. By partnering with RBC, Ponderosa was able to receive 100 per cent financing on the property acquisition, thereby eliminating the need for Joe to make a down payment on the property and enabling him to preserve his working capital for his business."

About Ponderosa Mushrooms & Specialty Foods

Ponderosa Mushrooms & Specialty Foods is a supplier of wild and exotic mushrooms, truffles and specialty foods. Ponderosa is recognized as one of the most diverse and respected specialty mushroom companies in the industry, and was certified as a kosher facility in 2010 by BC Kosher. For more information about Ponderosa Mushrooms, visit http://www.ponderosa-mushrooms.com/.

About First West Capital

First West Capital is First West Credit Union's newest division, and is a $100 million fund established to provide subordinated debt and mezzanine financing to small- and medium-sized businesses. Led by Kristi Miller and Robert Napoli, the First West Capital team has more than 25 years of commercial lending experience including 18 years in subordinated debt financing.

Formed through the merger of Envision Financial and Valley First credit unions, First West Credit Union is committed to local decision making and taking advantage of local business knowledge. The same is true for First West Capital. With on-the-ground knowledge of its local markets, First West Capital has the advantages of speed and flexibility. For more information, visit www.firstwestcapital.ca.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $6.6 billion in assets under administration, more than 169,000 members and close to 1,400 employees. It operates 37 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial and Valley First brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit www.firstwestcu.ca.

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