[Editor’s Note: A grow and processing cannabis business is fabulous news for Saginaw County, which is just north of Flint, MI. The area’s economy has been depressed for quite some time. These jobs are very much needed.]
CHESANING, MI — A building that has sat vacant for nearly 25 years after a meat-packing plant shut down there will now house a business that claims it will restore hundreds of jobs to the community.
OrganiLife, located at 15403 Sharron Road in Chesaning, opens at the end of March as a medical marijuana growing and processing facility, said property owner Beau Parmenter. The 30,000-square-foot building will start off with 4,500 plants, but the business has an 16 additional buildings on the 19-acre property that would allow 500,000 plants to grow if the business continues to expand, said Parmenter.
The business currently has three Class C licenses which amounts to 1,500 plants per license and one processing license. The business will distribute product to provisioning centers throughout the state.
In June 2017, the Village Council opted in to the state medical marijuana facilities act.
Parmenter has owned the more than century-old property since 2007, about a dozen years after Peet Packing, then owned by former Detroit Tiger Denny McLain, filed for bankruptcy and nearly 300 employees lost their jobs. The meat packing business employed generations of families in Chesaning and surrounding communities to produce smoked meats, cold cuts and sausages.
“The whole goal is to bring those jobs back into the community,” said Zach Chludil, cultivator for OrganiLife. “It’s gonna take a little bit of time, but there’s no reason with the current demand in the market that once were licensed and up and going, we should be able to literally grow along with demand which can lead to significant jobs in due time.”
Over time, Parmenter estimates the new marijuana business will generate up to 350 jobs. Since renovations to the building began last year, about 20 jobs were created and this year, about another 20 will be added.
“Quite a list of provisioning centers are waiting for the product already. They’ve got a waiting list that keeps growing daily, because they need good product,” Parmenter said. Parmenter said what sets the business apart from other budding marijuana-related businesses are the products that will be used for plant cultivation. “It’s an all-natural product that they’re producing,” Parmenter said. “They’re using plant-based material for all the sprays, nutrients. No pesticides. No insecticides. That’s a thing. Going all-natural,” Parmenter said.
The facility will house seven grow rooms, office space, a conference room and shower area.
So far, the community has welcomed the business, said Parmenter. “Two large employers have sat empty for so long are now being re-purposed, and it’s good for the community,” said Kate Weber, executive director for the Chesaning Chamber of Commerce. Weber is referring to VB Chesaning, 624 Brady St., another medical marijuana business in Chesaning, which formerly housed McDonald’s Dairy. Weber said both businesses are members of the chamber.
Last year, Zach Chludil and other members of OrganiLife went to the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners to get the property annexed from Chesaning Township to the village of Chesaning so it could be included in the medical marijuana ordinance. The annexation was approved to promote the business and economic development.
Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel said he recognizes the two marijuana businesses can be targets for crime and says his department will do its best to protect the community.
“This is a commodity,” Federspiel said. “It’s valuable to some people and it’s expensive to some people. It has a lot of potential to generate a lot of money.” Federspiel has been working closely with Great Lakes Natural Remedies, another medical marijuana facility in Spaulding Township, set to open in the spring. He said the township has one Saginaw County deputy on contract now and two more will be added in May. “We’ll be focusing on (the facility), but we’ll be serving the entire area,” Federspiel said.
Parmenter said he’s reached out to the Chesaning Police Department to discuss security for OganiLife, which will be equipped with plenty of security cameras.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for employment and investors in the community,” said Parmenter. “It’s phenomenal what we’re bringing to the table to get this place back on track.”
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