By Bob Audette, Brattleboro Reformer
BRATTLEBORO — At one time, the facility located at 21 O’Bryan Drive produced the epitome of junk food — Twinkies.
Now the building is home to Northeast Processing, which is dedicated to producing the highest quality CBD oil for consumers in Vermont and around the world.
“Northeast Processing exists to support Vermont hemp and botanical farmers and to be the premier resource to Vermont’s exploding cannabis growing community,” states its website. “Northeast Processing offers scientific precision, unmatched quality, and a full array of extraction and processing services. Our goal is to showcase the amazing quality that is being grown within our state by dedicated and talented farmers.”
On Friday afternoon, Christine Hallquist, Democratic candidate for governor, visited the facility.
“People want to know where their products are coming from,” said Hallquist. “With food products coming from all over the world, you never know what’s in it. This is part of that.”
Northeast Processing was co-founded by Carl Christianson and Noah Quist
“Last year when we were seeing the hemp market develop in the state, we realized a lot of farmers were interested in making consumer products but there wasn’t the infrastructure in place to support them,” said Christianson. “That’s part of what we are setting up, the ability to process and test at a scale that will transition the Vermont market to a broader national marketplace.”
Christianson said he and Quist looked around Vermont for the right location and eventually settled on Brattleboro, attributing much of that decision to the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and Brattleboro Savings & Loan.
“The people in Brattleboro were the most receptive to us and the most eager and willing to help us. BDCC made great introductions for us,” he said. “And we’ve loved working with Brattleboro Savings & Loan. They’ve been very helpful every step of the way, and not just with banking but with advice and working within the realm of financial institutions. It’s been fantastic.”
“I’ve seen a lot of business plans in five years and this one, by far, was the best,” said Adam Grinold, the executive director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation.
But it wasn’t all peaches and cream, said Christianson, especially when it came to financing. BDCC helped them apply for money through the Windham County Economic Development Program, which is funded from money contributed by Entergy when it shuttered Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon. The program is administered by the Vermont Economic Development Authority, which receives some of its additional funding from the federal government. Because VEDA receives some funding from the federal government, it can’t provide funding to companies that are working with hemp.
“BDCC ushered us through the VEDA program and we had very good support for purchasing this building, but at the last moment the government stepped in and pulled the funds even though VEDA gave us unanimous support for our project,” said Christianson.
However, he said, despite the setback, they were able to find investors who believed in their business. “We worked very hard to raise money and not just to raise money but to raise it from the right people, partners who believe in Vermont the way that we do. We went after Vermonters or people with strong ties to Vermont.”
Christianson said hemp farming and CBD oil production fits right into the state’s agrarian tradition.
“We can stay true to our agrarian past and have a new industry that brings with it a new source of revenue and new jobs,” he said. “We can have farmers doing the farming and we are helping to make consumers feel confident in what the farmers are producing.”
Hallquist said that while farmers need the ability to move to alternative crops, the key is not the crop itself. “The key is the finished product. Having those things packaged and sold around the world. That’s our market.”
Christianson also believes that Vermont can take the lead with CBD production.
“Just because we are small doesn’t mean we can’t have a profound effect in this marketplace. Vermont has done a really great job of fostering this industry and we think there is a real opportunity with new regulations coming into place to do them effectively and to regulate in such a way that we can encourage Vermont companies to have a very large impact on the national market.”
And Christianson said Northeast Processing is all about “open sourcing” whatever they learn as they go along.
“We want to be very transparent and have people learn from what we are doing and help to educate the public about what is going on here. If we can get that right, consumers will have the confidence in what we produce in the state. They will support us and we’ll be able to get that Vermont brand out of the state and into the national market, riding on the coat tails of the Vermont brand to have a very high quality product that will command quality pricing and support the farmers.”
He is also excited about bringing good, well-paying jobs to Brattleboro.
“We’ve been able to bring a lot of people to Brattleboro and hopefully to soon be able to hire a lot of people within the town of Brattleboro and beyond.”
According to Northeast Processing’s website, “Cannabidiol — CBD — is a compound found in cannabis that many people find to have health benefits. … CBD appeals to many people seeking a natural remedy for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions. New studies are released regularly that point to CBD having possible benefits for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.”
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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