PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) — More than 100 jobs are coming to the Pine Bluff area as part of the medical marijuana industry. Five cultivation facilities will open across the state and two of those will be in Jefferson County.
Natural State Wellness Enterprises is one of the five companies awarded a license to grow marijuana. They submitted two identical applications, one in Jefferson and one in Jackson County. Monday we learned they chose Jefferson County for their cultivation facility.
Natural State Wellness and Natural State Medicinals Cultivation are bringing a buzz of anticipation to the Pine Bluff area
“This is a boon for us. I really think it is,” Pine Bluff City Council member Bruce Lockett said. "We sorely need jobs and it will be a source of economic development to grow our tax base."
Caleb McMahan, director of economic development with the Jefferson County Alliance has been actively pursuing cultivation facilities to come here.
"I’m very open to the idea of medical marijuana but beyond that, it was more of a passion to the city," McMahan said. "We became quite popular because we were chasing it and open to it.”
That’s why McMahan believes two facilities coming to Jefferson County wasn’t an accident.
"We had 13 applications come from Jefferson County for cultivation units which is more than any other in the state," McMahan said.
Natural State Wellness Enterprises plans to open their facility just behind The Pines shopping center. Their application mentions a lasting economic impact providing more than 60 new jobs, a nearly $1 million annual labor investment with nearly $10 million capital expenditures to local businesses.
“Average income for one of these facilities is around $70,000 a year so we're talking about good paying jobs, not just jobs," McMahan said.
Just 20 miles up the road, Natural State Medicinals Cultivation will locate their facility just outside White Hall off Interstate 530 and Gravel Pit Road. Their application mentions phase one build-out will employ 75 Arkansans including cultivators, support staff, and managers.
"Arkansas is about to see the best resurgence or comeback stories that we’ve seen in a long time with Pine Bluff," McMahan said.
The other three cultivation facilities will be located in Woodruff County, Jackson County, and Carroll County.