By COLLIN GALLANT on September 7, 2019.
A company planning to process hemp oil at a new 100,000 square-foot plant in Medicine Hat could begin operations this fall in a temporary facility, officials with Folium Biosciences tell the News.
Earlier this week city council awarded the firm’s proposed $30-million plant additional development subsidy, amounting to about $250,000.
But with construction season now steaming into the fall, Folium hopes to begin operations at an existing facility “in the Medicine Hat area” while the larger operation is being built.
“Our permanent facility is continuously being drawn out, and we’re making sure that we don’t under build,” Folium’s Canadian general manager Ryan Jackson told the News, adding more specific plans would be announced soon.
“The market is changing so quickly, we’re on version four or five, But we still expect to be moving dirt this fall.”
It late January 2019 the Colorado-based company announced Medicine Hat as its Canadian expansion site.
The facility was described at that time as a 100,000 square-foot material processing facility and a 70,000 square-foot packaging plant. Up to 250 workers could be needed.
At the same time, officials described the hope to get up to 10,000 acres under contract with area growers to supply the facility.
Jackson said his staff has been busy securing a supply of hemp and Cannabis feedstock to operate until the 2020 harvest.
This week, council responded to a request by the company that it be considered for some additional relief, similar to an economic growth program that led to development fee breaks of about $5.9 million to Aurora Cannabis.
In Folium’s case, the city will now cover $553,000, or about half the utility fees on the project.
“It’s the final piece to move into place for us to move ahead with the (plant construction) project,” said Jackson. “It wasn’t the only piece, but it was important.”
The company’s plan to build on 10 acres of land in the Box Springs Business Park would come with municipal development fees of about $1 million. Off-site levies are the system that recovers cost of major city sewer and waterlines to new subdivisions.
Under the blanket subsidy policy open to all developers, the city would cover 30 per cent from other revenue as a way to support activity.
Since the motion before council essentially waives fees that are due at the time a project moves ahead, no actual dollars are changing hands.