VIENNA — The Vienna City Council members said they were told the medical marijuana company that won a state medical marijuana cultivation license for a facility to be located in Vienna may …
VIENNA — The Vienna City Council members said they were told the medical marijuana company that won a state medical marijuana cultivation license for a facility to be located in Vienna may employ up to 50 to 60 people once it gets going.
At the Vienna City Council’s January meeting, Clerk Sherry James said Nick Rinella of Hippos, the company that won a coveted state license, being one of 60 applications approved among 554 applicants, said they were 1,000 percent still coming to Vienna. She said he is getting together what is needed to for the medical marijuana cultivation facility.
Hippos had three cultivation license applications for the Highway V, Vienna location in the industrial development park. The license that was approved was not for the existing building. Hippos had planned to construct the needed buildings if all of the licenses were approved. Clerk James said Rinella told her he was submitting paperwork to use the existing building for the application that was approved and didn’t think it would be an issue. The company plans to break ground possibly in February and open for business this summer.
South Ward Alderwoman and Acting Mayor Brenda Davis said Hippos had three cultivation license applications because the state allows x-number of marijuana plants (2,800 plants) per license. North Ward Alderman Tyler “TC” James said the company initially planned to build two more buildings if all three licenses had been approved. James said Hippos also filed for multiple marijuana manufacturing licenses for the Highway V site and were notified that their applications were denied. (See related story titled “Marijuana manufacturing applications unsuccessful” on page 3.)
Throughout this process of Hippos applying for licenses to commercially grow marijuana at the Highway V location, the council members had contact with Rinella who they said was enthusiastic about the opportunities the new medical marijuana law has brought to the state. Alderman James said they were told the newly created jobs would pay “a competitive rate.” Rinella told them the facility would require quality people and there would be no criminal element present at all. The council members did not know if the 50 to 60 new jobs were for all three cultivation licenses and the multiple manufacturing licenses sought by the company, or if it was for just one cultivation facility. Davis said they were not allowed all of the information.
The council will invite Rinella to attend a meeting to talk to them and detail what the plan is at this time. Davis said the contract was always contingent upon Hippos securing a license, which it did. There is more information to come, she said.
Hippos was fortunate to be one of the applications selected by the state and it was the only one selected in Maries County. Some of the criteria used in the state’s selection is the background and qualifications of the owner or managers, including whether they have experience in agriculture and the legal cannabis market. The applicants submitted a business plan detailing how the facility will maintain an adequate supply of medical marijuana and how it will ensure the safety and security of patients and the community. The applicants also had to outline plans for site security and if their locating into an area would provide a positive economic impact in the community.
The state used a blind application scorer who had no access to identifying information about the applicants. About the number of cultivation licenses, the state calculated that 60 would be enough to begin but more licenses can be added at a later date if the demand for the product increases.