Executives overseeing the $20 million privately funded investment at the Huron Corporate Park, off Rye Beach Road (U.S. 6) near BGSU Firelands, pegged the project’s completion date sometime this summer but well in advance of a state-imposed Sept. 8 deadline. Work started in late December.
“We want to be up and running a lot earlier than that,” said spokesman Jeff McCourt, the manager and general counsel of Ohio Patients’ Choice, or OPC Cultivation, the entity undertaking this initiative. “We are 70 percent complete in terms of what’s left for us to do in this building.”
The initial phase calls for a 20,000-square-foot facility housing separate but adjoining areas to both grow and harvest cannabis. If OPC receives approval from the state to process medical marijuana, it can expand up to 75,000 square feet on this site.
“That wouldn’t be an issue of adding on or reconfiguring,” McCourt said. “It’s going to be a good-sized facility.”
In November, the Ohio Department of Commerce awarded OPC one of 13 coveted statewide licenses to grow marijuana on a large scale for specific medicinal purposes.
At its fullest potential, OPC wants to start with hiring 75 full-time workers with the possibilities of doubling this figure within months of opening. Meanwhile, opportunities exist, company executives contend, to create spinoff employment and related jobs associated with growing medical marijuana.
“If all things go according to plan, there will be so many direct and ancillary benefits,” McCourt said. “Even now, there are dozens of construction jobs because of this. We have our steel coming from a company in Norwalk and our cement and masonry from Huron. This has and will help the local economy.”
A cultivation center differs from a medical marijuana dispensary, a separate license OPC also applied for in Huron. Similar to a pharmacy, a dispensary involves selling medical marijuana to qualified patients. In Ohio, people can’t directly buy medical marijuana from a cultivation center.
Regarding the cultivation center, local officials expressed great enthusiasm about the recent developments and overall prospects.
“It’s extremely impressive what they have been able to do,” Huron city manager Andy White said.
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