A number of local officials and city employees as well as Temescal workers attended the event that included a tour of the facility.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Temescal Wellness is ready to start production in a few weeks and anticipates some "really top-notch weed" available by late fall.
CEO Alex Hardy and Mayor Jennifer Macksey cut the ribbon on the 72,000-square-foot, more than $20 million, state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation facility on Wednesday morning even as National Grid was out back making sure that the power will be there when operations begin.
"We actually were one of the first 10 companies to become fully operational in the state," said Hardy. "There's been a sea change in terms of how people approach the cannabis industry, how operators like us approach the cannabis industry. ... This facility is allowing our company to re-establish ourselves as one of the leaders in the state."
Temescal has three retail shops in Pittsfield, Framingham and Hudson and currently employs about 100. The new cultivation facility will add about 80 jobs in the coming months.
"What is great about today is not only the improvement in this facility but the economic development that will come out of this facility," said Macksey. "While I'm thrilled about the employment opportunity in North Adams, I'm even more thrilled about the tax revenue I'm going to get."
Two years after stationery factory Crane closed, the more than 40-year-old plant has been completely rebuilt on the inside over the past year. Temescal purchased the 10-acre lot in the Hardman Industrial Park last year.
"We have completely gutted this thing, repoured the foundation," Hardy said. "We have built this thing from the ground up with just the outer envelope surviving ... this is truly a state-of-the-art facility in Massachusetts in the cannabis industry."
The once largely open floor plan busy with people and machines has now been closed in with discrete areas and doors with warning signs of limited access. The walls are panels used for walk-in coolers, the floors are epoxied and inclined for drainage, and a massive water and fertilization room mixes the correct nutrients the plants need.
The computerized Damatex system is embedded throughout the facility to automatically adjust levels as necessary to optimize plant growth, Hardy said, plus CO2 is pumped into the building to spur the plant's growth.
Next door is the "mother room" that can hold up to 400 cannabis plants — the facility's genetic library — that will never be allowed to flower but will rather be cloned.
"We keep that at a state where they are just prior to flowering and literally cut leaves off of these plants," said Hardy. "We're going to end up producing almost a 1,000 plants a week in here. To do that, we're going to have to cut about 1,500 little leaves."
The leaves will be planted, culled and the final selections placed on of several 4-by-20-foot trays that can roll along the perimeter of the grow area and through the center of the building for the grow process.
Although "functionally finished," areas of the facility are still empty waiting for equipment for drying, flash freezing, stocking, and packaging — all things months off at the moment.
Temescal still has to have the state's Cannabis Control Commission do a final signoff before the first plants are potted.
Then, "we will have plants in the ground in a matter of weeks and then we will be growing and growing and finally rolling product out right around Christmas time or shortly thereafter," Hardy said.
The estimated grow period is about 16 weeks with another three weeks for aging. An independent laboratory will take care of testing. The facility will grow medicine-grade cannabis and sell for both medical and recreational use.
With some exceptions — such as operating the Damatex system — the average worker can be trained on the job although horticultural or agricultural knowledge is a plus.
The lack of product allowed attendees at Wednesday's ribbon cutting to tour the facility without concerns for security or protective gear. Also in attendance were Councilors Peter Oleskiewicz and Wayne Wilkinson, Police Chief Jason Wood, Fire Chief Brent Lefebvre, Building Inspector William Meranti, 1Berkshire Director of Economic Development Projects Benjamin Lamb and Christopher Cozzaglio, representing Congressman Richie Neal's office.
Hardy called out ARCO National Construction, the contractor for the project, and local subcontractors for their work, Innovative Industrial Properties for funding the project, and local lawmakers and the city and its departments for aiding in its successful completion.
"Everybody in our company has had some hand in bringing this facility together," he said, but specifically pointed to Temescal Controller Michael Bates for keeping the project on point, Compliance Director Kasey Corson and Director of Production Tom Haffly for being the brainchild behind the project "and driving the functional design of this facility."
Macksey said the ribbon cutting wasn't an end but a continuation of the teamwork between the city and its newest business.
"Alex has been a good educator about cannabis," she said. "Some of you tell me I'm the mayor who hates weed, but that's not the case. ...
"I think it's important for our community to be educated on the growth and cultivation and the good that this building will do for North Adams. Our teamwork doesn't end today."
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