Pueblo’s hemp jobs push gains ground – News – Fowler Tribune – Fowler, CO


Folium Biosciences’ planned manufacturing plant represents another step forward in the community’s years-long effort to recruit the emerging industries surrounding industrial hemp, CBD oil and other cannabis-related products, according to Jeff Shaw, chief executive of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp.

“That’s great, welcome news for Pueblo. I think they’ll find tremendous success with our workforce. It’s exciting for us to hear that type of project is moving to Pueblo,” Shaw said. “We’ve been trying to be out in front of it for the last three or four years and it has kept Pueblo County with a high level of visibility.”

PEDCO was not involved directly in the Folium’s talks but Shaw said that the availability of the large, Food and Drug Administration-certified Andrews Foodserve building in Pueblo West likely was another of the major draws for the company. Such locations are hard to come by in an industry that needs them, he said.

Other prospects continue to show varying levels of interest in Pueblo, he said.

Interest “is strong. Certainly hemp projects, which CBD is a component of it, are fast and furious right now. There’s an increased level of outside interest as well as a high level of investment interest,” he said.

PEDCO itself is involved in advanced talks with a handful of companies, he said.

“What we’re seeing is everything from smaller to larger operations,” he said.

Several years ago, Pueblo area governments, colleges and business groups began recognizing the community’s potential as a hub for cannabis-related research and manufacturing given the area’s prime growing conditions, long history of manufacturing and voter support for legalization of hemp and marijuana.

The nonprofit PEDCO joined in the push by elevating industrial hemp to one of the group’s top targeted industries for future local job growth, along with rail (including steel) and aerospace. Industrial hemp is void of the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana.

Industrial hemp fibers, seeds and oil are used in a number of products that include clothing, construction materials, paper and jewelry; food and beverages; and wellness products such as lotions and supplements to help with inflammation, stress and other health issues.

Folium is the second major CBD manufacturer to select the Pueblo area for major operations. Veritas Farms, a division of Florida-based SanSal Wellness, operates a large hemp farm and CBD product manufacturing complex about 10 miles west of Lake Pueblo.

In 2015, a startup company, CBD Biosciences, proposed and later shelved plans to open a 160-worker hemp oil processing plant at the former Boeing rocket assembly plant at the Airport Industrial Park. The company cited an uncertain regulatory environment as one of the factors in its decision. The former Boeing plant was later purchased by retailer Big R for its new headquarters office and main warehouse.

On the agricultural side, Pueblo County and other Southeastern Colorado counties are home to a growing number of farm acres planted in hemp, according to industry groups. Nationally, Colorado and Kentucky are considered the leading states for hemp farming and processing.

Last year, Congress passed a law exempting industrial hemp from the longtime federal ban on marijuana and other cannabis products that contain THC. In 2012, Colorado voters approved a measure to legalize recreational marijuana and also permit the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp within the state.

ddarrow@chieftain.com

Twitter: @PuebloBusiness



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