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Marijuana cultivation center expanding services to meet recreational needs

In just two months, recreational marijuana will be legal in the state of Illinois.

Ahead of January 1, a business in Pike County, Illinois, is working to double in size.

Marijuana cultivation center, Ascend Wellness, in Barry, Illinois, is expanding its services.

Officials said in order to meet the incoming demand, they’ll need more space and more employees. It’s something city leaders in Barry said could have a big impact on the town.

The cannabis industry is quickly growing in Illinois and for Barry, it’s no exception.

“There are plenty of jobs that will be available as we ramp up here,” Ascend Wellness Spokesperson Chris McCloud said.

Ascend Wellness is preparing for a change of pace, come the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“With a new market coming into Illinois, we’re going to make sure that this facility can produce a maximum output to meet the demands,” McCloud said.

He said this comes in the form of expansion.

“The expansion of this facility will be going from about 84 employees to about 140 employees within the next six months,” McCloud said.

Barry City Administrator Jeff Hogge said not only does the city benefit from the property taxes, but new jobs open more opportunities to bring new residents in.

“Right now, we have a number of vacant houses,” Hogge said. “Some of these people are coming from Jacksonville. They’ve got employees from Springfield that are making the drive every day that possibly might be interested in taking a look at our housing stock here in town.”

Hogge said beyond that, the facility is adding square feet within a TIF zone, which means more revenue for the city.

“We’re able to do some road improvements in our TIF zone, it will help our schools, increase school size, we’ve been paying off some our debt, which helps the city’s financial position,” Hogge said.

It’s something McCloud said he is proud to be apart of.

“We’re proud to be able to help this area economically,” McCloud said.

McCloud said they have secured one of the first licenses in Illinois to produce cannabis for recreational use. He said they plan to hire employees in the next six months.

Ascend Wellness also operates marijuana dispensaries in Springfield, Illinois and Collinsville, Illinois.
They said come January first, they are planning to launch their own brand of cannabis.

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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