Skip to comments.Athol looks to marijuana cultivation to create jobs in old mill (500 jobs in Massachusetts)
Posted on 11/05/2017 8:01:35 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
ATHOL The town is negotiating an agreement for marijuana growing at a sprawling mill that has been mostly vacant for decades, and it could bring 500 jobs to town.
Town Manager Shaun A. Suhoski said recently he is working on the host community agreement after a vote of non-opposition by selectmen last month for a medical marijuana indoor cultivation facility at 134 Chestnut Hill Ave., the former Union Twist Drill Co. mill. The building is owned by Bill Purple, 93, president of the L.P. Athol Corp., which purchased the building in 1986.
Mr. Purple has been redeveloping the 365,000-square-foot building for mixed use for years; it has several small commercial tenants.
During an Oct. 17 meeting, selectmen voted 4-1 for the letter of non-opposition to the cultivation, manufacturing and extraction facility. The move opened the doors for nonprofit Herbology Group Inc., which holds the provisional license, and developer Sea Hunter Therapeutics to move to the next step.
Frank A. Perullo, spokesman for Herbology, said the companies were attracted to the building in Athol because it is zoned appropriately and the town has set parcels of land for indoor cultivation.
Once we find a site that is zoned appropriately that meets state buffer requirements, like (away from) common areas where children congregate and the requirement of the town buffer, we are interested, Mr. Perullo said. This site is perfect. It is secure, surrounded by a river and railroad, and there is only one entrance. Athol is the only property right now in our sights. We love the property. It is the way to go.
Additionally, the town was receptive during initial discussions, he said.
The developer is investing millions of dollars in the site, he said, and renovations will be done in phases, starting with 100,000 square feet and eventually taking up the entire complex and potentially adding more structures.
If all goes smoothly, the facility could open by the second fiscal quarter of next year, he said, initially hiring 200 full-time people for good paying jobs of $15-plus an hour in a fast-growing industry that is projected to outpace manufacturing nationally by 2020 and soar to $25 billion in revenue.
The clean-room technology facility will potentially add another 300 jobs, he said, at all skill levels, from tending to the organically grown crop and computer-controlled fertigation systems and extracting processes, to corporate jobs managing the yields and finances.
Marijuana plants grown at the facility will be used in oils, tinctures and infused products, he said.
The next step is to finalize the real estate transaction and work with the town on our special permit, Mr. Perullo said. We are also in the process of creating an agreement with the town for a lasting and long-term relationship with the town for town resources we need to help our business grow and to make sure we take care of the town.
He said he anticipates that agreement will be complete in the coming weeks or days.
The facility would be Athols second largest employer. Tool-maker L.S. Starrett Co. is the largest.
Mr. Suhoski said once the state Department of Public Health grants the license, the proposal will go before the Zoning Board for a special permit.
However, Selectman Rebecca Bialecki, the only board member who voted against the letter of non-opposition, said she is not a supporter of recreational marijuana. She said although it is a legalized industry in Massachusetts, she has many concerns about drug use and abuse in Athol.
It is a drug, legal or not, and any substance which can alter someones mood or impair judgement can be problematic, Ms. Bialecki said. We are struggling with an addiction epidemic in our state. I dont see this as an industry that is one to build our future on.
Lee Chauvette, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he is committed to moving the project forward in the best interest of our community.
I believe it is a great reuse of the mill facility, Mr. Chauvette said. The area needs employment opportunities. Hundreds of jobs could be housed at the proposed facility. I have researched the various people involved in the proposal and Sea Hunter Therapeutics appears to be well-funded and able to take on the project. Herbology Group Inc. has been issued a provisional certificate for another project in Chester, Mass.
Cindy Hartwell, Mr. Purples daughter, and her husband Chuck Hartwell, business development director for L.P. Athol Corp., said they are excited about the possibility.
Its exciting if it happens, but were very far away from it happening, Ms. Hartwell said. We want it to happen and want jobs to come to town.
Mr. Hartwell said the developer approached them about three weeks ago and toured the building before the selectmens meeting Oct. 17. The couple said nothing has happened the last few weeks.
We didnt want to go public, Ms. Hartwell said. There are so many more steps, and we have tenants we dont want to disrupt.
“ATHOL The town is negotiating an agreement for marijuana growing at a sprawling mill that has been mostly vacant for decades, and it could bring 500 jobs to town.”
This describes every town in MA west of Worcester.
From Union Twist Drill Co. mill to large scale dope operations...and cheering the “job growth.”
That says all you need to know about America the past 50 years.
From Union Twist Drill Co. mill to large scale dope operations.
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I had more that a little grin on my mug when I sent this to my ex wife who was born in Gardner and raised in Athol. Yes, she is one of those NE Liberal eggheads who doesn’t really realize she is a Liberal egghead.
I married her in 63, stopped drinking in 91 and it didn’t take long for me to realize why I had basically stayed drunk from 63-91..<: <:
Completely had ‘enough’ by 03.... I think I got bonus dollars on my SS for lasting 40 years with her....
Athol is a drug infested hell hole. We pronounce it as a$$h*le.
A night out of fine dining there would be the pizza shop.
The sure marks of areas in economic decline: legal weed, legal gambling, legal prostitution, and plenty of alcohol. 500 jobs? The Chinese are quaking in their boots — NOT. They are laughing at the pathetic Americans who transferred real technology to China and are now relying on vice for economic activity.
“Where do you live?”
“Hey, no need to be rude. I was just asking...”
Oh, I thought someone had a lisp.
The sure marks of areas in economic decline: legal weed, legal gambling, legal prostitution, and plenty of alcohol.
Thanks for the ping.
Hope this facility proves profitable for the business, it’s employees & the town itself.
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