Holyoke is set with many large-scale cannabis production and retail events for 2021 and beyond. The city is projected to have its economy driven by the cannabis industry.
Due to the city’s open-arms strategy to the industry, it has gained attention from investors attracted to the low utility costs and conversion-ready former mills.
Around 40 provisional licenses for businesses in Holyoke, the most per capita in any Massachusetts city, have now been granted by the state Cannabis Control Commission.
Marcos Marrero, Former Director of Planning and Development of Holyoke said, “Holyoke has become a site where we clustered the industry, particularly for manufacturing. Specifically, growing the plant, processing the active ingredient, whether it’s the THC oil or the flower.”
Marrero compared a cannabis retail business to a liquor store. However, politics and community rule contribute to where the shops should open. The total demand can be filled by a cannabis supplier or grower, offering raw materials or finished goods.
He added that political stability is offered by Holyoke, where a majority of the population voted in support of the 2016 referendum legalizing recreational cannabis. Mayor Alex B. Morse proposed changing the restrictions on marijuana in the state and allowing recreational use.
As a primary reason investors are flocking to Holyoke, Marrero cited the city’s electricity rates, some of the lowest in Massachusetts. To run artificial lights and sustain optimum growth conditions, growing and cultivation operations need loads of energy.
In 2018, Green Thumb Industries opened a medical marijuana growing facility on Appleton Street, an $8 million rehabilitation of a former paper mill. The retailers’ Canna Provisions on Dwight Street and Boston Bud Factory on Sargeant Street also followed. ⠀
Erik Williams, Canna Provisions’ COO said, though retail remains the priority of the business, cultivation, and production are part of its long-range plans. “We know from our experience that it is an important aspect of cannabis tourism. As a whole, we love the city,” he said.
Trulieve began to work on a growing-cultivation facility in Holyoke. Trulieve is a powerhouse in the cannabis industry that has operations in California, Connecticut, Florida, and Massachusetts.
The company plans to use 100,000 square feet for cultivating marijuana, while the remaining 40,000 square feet are for production, dispensary, and office space.
The company is completing the permitting process. “During the first half of the year, we’ll be operational,” said Lynn Ricci, Trulieve’s Director of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications.
The launch of operations will be devoted to the production of marijuana plants. According to Ricci, the firm raised $40 million in funding for the Holyoke initiative. “It’s a big, older building, and we’re putting a lot into it to make it a best-in-class cultivation. It’s quite costly, but we have not used that full amount as of yet,” she said.
Ricci said that Trulieve wanted to participate early on in “majority-minority communities” such as Holyoke. The host community agreement negotiated with Holyoke mandates that, along with security personnel, a percentage of workers come from the city.