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Will Weed Be Kings County’s Largest Employer?

September 21,2016-

purple-heart-2016-09-20-at-3-51-56-pmThe “times are a changing’ and perhaps cotton will no longer be king in Kings County.


The City of Hanford is weighing a proposal by an Oakland company to use the 1 million square feet vacant Pirelli Tire (Armstrong) plant in the Hanford Industrial Park to cultivate medical marijuana indoors. The building has been largely empty since 2001.

According to a September 12 letter from Keith Stephenson of Purple Heart Patient Care the operation could employ as many as 1115 workers getting at least $15 per hour. That would make it Kings County’s largest private employer.

The Hanford City Council took the plan up at a study session this week. They will weigh the potential upside economics with their comfort level over marijuana cultivation in this conservative community. Currently the city does not allow ‘weed’ to be within the city limits.

According to the letter Stephenson said the company was willing to offer a $25 per pound tax to the city that would provide up to $14 million a year in revenue to the city by his calculation.

Stephenson has served patients from their Oakland facility since 2006 an currently has 26 employees. He is a retired United Airlines tech who underwent two hip replacements that led to involvement with medical marijuana.

He says the facility could be in full operation in late 2017 shipping product out.

“It’s been a long time since that parking lot has been full of cars” says Kings EDC president John Lehn.

Meanwhile the City of Coalinga is working with a another firm who is proposing a marijuana oil extracting operation in a vacant city jail building.

Visalia & Hanford Metros Show GDP Growth

New figures released this week show that the Hanford/Corcoran Metro Area grew by 4.4% between 2014-2015, ahead of the 2.5% US average. Meanwhile,nearby Visalia/Porterville Metro Area grew by 7.6%in 2015, the fourth fastest growing metro in the US. The major category of growth came from agriculture in both cases.

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