As the submission window for medical marijuana cultivation facilities nears, the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corp. met Friday with four companies hoping to submit applications for a Jacksonville facility.
JREDC President Terry Denison said numerous sites around the state are being considered, and those proposed for Jacksonville will be among up to 500 applications for just 22 spots in the state.
Approval of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act opened the door for cultivation and dispensing facilities across the state. There will be a maximum of 22 cultivation centers in Illinois — one in each state police district — and they would have to be at least 2,500 feet away from schools and residential areas. The guidelines also allow for 60 dispensaries, which would have to be 1,000 feet away from schools and houses.
Communities across the state are doing their best to attract these facilities, as each one could provide dozens of well-paying jobs.
The city of Jacksonville identified piece of property on East Morton Avenue near other industrial-zoned areas. Denison said four companies he spoke with Friday have expressed interest in making that their property of choice when applying.
“The applications will actually start filtering into the Department of Agriculture on Sept. 8,” Denison said. “They’re expecting between 400 to 500 applications for 22 cultivation centers. That’s how intense the competition is for this.”
Denison said at one time there were eight companies expressing interest in Jacksonville. There’s expected to be other applications submitted for sites in Springfield, Lincoln and Taylorville — all within the same State Police District 9.
After a 14-day window for submitting applications, the Department of Agriculture will have to review each and make a decision. There’s no indication of how long that could take.
On Friday, JREDC heard presentations from each company, allowing the city to decide if they approved of the plans.
“We’re hoping to hear exactly what their intentions are,” he said. “What size of building they are going to put on, how many jobs will be available.”
The economic development group also hoped to hear plans on how each company plans to be a member of the community.
“We know that on the application to the Department of Agriculture, how they are going to be a good corporate citizen in the community is bonus points for them. So it’s not only important to us but it’s going to be important to them as they go to submit their applications.”
Cody Bozarth can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1223, or on Twitter @JCnews_Cody.