JAMESTOWN, NY (WKBW) — The City of Jamestown is launching a new initiative aimed at bringing the commercial cannabis business into the city and it could generate millions of dollars in tax revenues.
Leaders the small Chautauqua County town say it is the perfect fit for both large and small cannabis growers while also giving the community a chance to revitalize its economy.
“The cannabis industry is really the new frontier here in the City of Jamestown and as a city, we've never been afraid of new frontiers and new things,” remarked Eddie Sundquist, mayor, Jamestown.
The City of Jamestown, incorporated in 1886, is probably best-known as the hometown of legendary comedian Lucille Ball and Jamestown Furniture.
But now the city is hoping to be known for a new, future industry in cannabis manufacturing.
“We’re treating it as any other industry — an opportunity to bring in incubation for the cannabis industry, to bring growth, hydroponic growth as well as production,” explained Sundquist.
Now that the state legalized adult use of marijuana, Mayor Sundquist says they want to let cannabis growers known his community could be the perfect fit to manufacture it.
The city is working to identify properties, including vacant buildings, that it could sell to the growers to set up shop in Jamestown — former manufacturing facilities already with the proper zoning regulations in place.
A building on Allen Street in Jamestown is one of the sites that could be considered for cannabis manufacturing.
"We have locations that we are looking at. We've got a whole bunch of old factories and buildings that make perfect areas for hydroponic growth of cannabis. We've got everything a cannabis industry might need from containers to packaging, we've got companies that do that all across the U.S. right here in this city," Sundquist said.
The city operates its own power plant, Jamestown Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
It’s the largest municipal power plant in the state — providing low-cost electricity and water to commercial customers. That could be huge win to entice cannabis growers.
“Indoor growing is power intensive — it takes a lot of water,” described Craig Garaas-Johnson, business development coordinator, BPU.
Garaas-Johnson says he's received a couple dozen inquires so far from cannabis growers.
"We can tell them right now if we have an existing structure that has the kind of power that they need — has the water they need nearby, what kind of infrastructure changes they'll need,” Garaas-Johnson replied.
If the cannabis is grown here, under the new law, it can not be exported out of the state.
7 Eyewitness News approached ten people on the city streets asking for their thoughts on a new cannabis economy.
They all declined to talk on camera. Most said they favor it in order to clean up vacant buildings, but at least one resident shouted, "no way" in opposition.
The Jamestown mayor says he has heard some opposition, mainly with concerns of dispensing the product, but the state law allows cities to restrict dispensing.
“However, the law does not allow a city to restrict the growing operations the production operation,” noted Mayor Sundquist.
Cannabis manufacturing would create new jobs for Jamestown and generate an initial economic impact of $25 to $50-million dollars in property investment.
“Take a look at Jamestown — you don't have anything to lose,” declared Sundquist.