HAYDEN — In an effort to create jobs and spur the local economy, Hayden Town Council unanimously passed a financial incentive package for a new hemp business at its June 6 meeting.
Natural Path Botanicals, which began as a marijuana grow facility in the town, will become one of only three federally licensed hemp processing facilities on the western half of Colorado.
The incentive package gives rebates on the business’ property over the next three years, starting in 2020. For the first year, the business will receive a 60% rebate, decreasing to 45% for 2021 and 20% for the final year.
In its financial projections to the Town Council, the business plans to create 10 full-time jobs when it reaches full capacity, with an emphasis on employing Hayden residents.
Town officials hope this growth will increase revenue for other businesses in the area and attract additional hemp farmers to the Yampa Valley.
“It gets Hayden on the map in an industry that is going to be really big,” said Mathew Mendisco, the town manager.
In a recent report, cannabis researchers BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research project that the nationwide sales of CBD — the nonpsychoactive substance for which hemp is cultivated — could surpass $20 billion by 2024.
This comes after the U.S. passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp across the nation, which has expanded markets and demand for CBD products.
Hemp differs from marijuana in that the plant contains less than 0.3% of THC, which has psychoactive properties. In other words, the CBD extracted from the hemp plant does not get people high. CBD has been touted for its medical benefits, coming in a wide form of products such as cosmetics, supplements and even food and beverages.
Natural Path Botanicals was formerly Emerge Farms, which grew high-inducing marijuana for dispensaries. Chris Franges, sales director for Natural Path Botanicals, said the company switched to growing hemp in May.
He pointed to the growing CBD market as the main reason for the switch, adding that it is much easier to work in an industry that has the approval of the federal government, unlike marijuana.
Natural Path Botanicals is primarily a hemp processing facility, according to Franges. While still in its early stages, the company is cultivating hemp plants it will sell to farmers across the state in exchange for the flower the plants and their clones produce. Employees at the company will then extract the CBD from those flowers and sell the cannabinoid to businesses that sell CBD-infused products, such as lotions and sodas.
Once the company reaches full capacity, Franges hopes to process about 500,000 to 750,000 pounds of hemp plants each year, which he said will keep it competitive with other commercial hemp operations in the state.
The growth of the business would have a ripple effect on the town of Hayden. Mendisco projects the town to receive about $17,600 in property taxes in the coming years, which is almost double the amount the business brought in last year when it was a marijuana grow operation.
The jobs the company plans to bring in will pay between $60,000 to $75,000 per year, according to financial projections presented to the Town Council.
“These are the types of jobs that people can make a living off of,” Mendisco said.
Natural Path Botanicals currently has five employees, according to Franges, two of whom live in Hayden.
“We have the opportunity to see this company grow, and we want to see them grow in Hayden,” Mendisco said.