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UAlbany grad looking to invest millions in hemp processing plant

October 09, 2019 02:42 PM

CANAHJOHARIE - An investor is looking to put millions of dollars into renovating the former Beech-Nut factory in Canajoharie.

Sheldon Roberts, a UAlbany graduate, is looking to open a hemp processing plant on what remains of the eastern side of the historic facility.

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Roberts owns Arouca Farms. He wants to put over $6 million into renovating 60,000 square feet of space to house the processing plant.

The total cost of the project is about $8 million, though Roberts is asking the state for a $1.3 million grant through the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council's Consolidated Funding Application.

Roberts was not available for an interview on Tuesday, but sent NewsChannel 13 this statement,

"We are very excited to do business in the Montgomery County area. Bringing economic opportunities to the area is one of our top priorities. We remain extremely optimistic about our chances of being awarded the grant so we can help revitalize the historic Beech-Nut site.”

Ken Rose, the CEO of Montgomery County Business Development Center also believes they have a good shot.

Rose said that's because the state has already invested millions in the property for other projects, like demolition and asbestos abatement. He said this could be the last step in getting at least a portion of the facility back on the tax rolls.

If all goes according to plan, Roberts would be looking to process 30,000 acres of hemp at the plant each year.

"They would actually be looking to then produce CBD oils,” Rose said.

Rose said part of Roberts' plan is to educate local farmers on growing hemp to be processed there.

Rose believes perceptions of hemp and CBD oil have changed recently and many local farmers may be interested in getting started.

“There was a consortium that Cornell Cooperative Extension put on where there was about 100 different farmers that showed up probably three or four months ago so the interest is extremely high for the area ag producers,” Rose said.

Roberts and Rose will likely hear if they got the state grant sometime in early December.  If all goes according to plan construction would start in January or February of next year and would last several months.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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