Pot in California

Pot center breaks ground in Mendota, promising jobs, $800K annually to city’s coffers

Mendota Councilman Robert Silva speaks during a Canna-Hub groundbreaking event on Thursday. The California-based cannabis commercial development and management company promises to bring 100 jobs and $800,000 into the city’s coffers.
Mendota Councilman Robert Silva speaks during a Canna-Hub groundbreaking event on Thursday. The California-based cannabis commercial development and management company promises to bring 100 jobs and $800,000 into the city’s coffers.

A California-based cannabis commercial company on Thursday broke ground on what it touted as the “first-of-its-kind” cannabis cultivating and processing campus in the sleepy city of Mendota.

Canna-Hub is promising to create 100 jobs in its first phase and funnel about $800,000 into the impoverished city’s coffers annually, according to company and city officials.

The Mendota City Council in March approved a development agreement with Canna-Hub. That followed the January approval of a resolution by Mendota’s Planning Commission on a conditional-use permit to allow the company to operate in the city’s industrial zone. Canna-Hub will operate in a 100,000-square-foot facility sitting on 16.5 acres of land on Marie Street.

Canna-Hub Chief Executive Officer Tim McGraw said his company purchased the location, which previously was a cantaloupe packing facility, for about $3.5 million. The renovation of the facility is expected to be done by the end of the year, and soon after that it will begin to operate.

After a two-month investigation, Fresno police seized 150 pounds of cannabis-infused edibles, including those packaged as candies. Chief Jerry Dyer expressed concern of such candies falling into the hands of children.

The cannabis campus will include a greenhouse, indoor cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and transportation to locales throughout the state. The cannabis commercial business will also house a third-party cannabis testing lab.

Canna-Hub, which will lease to various vendors, hopes to create about 100 jobs during the first phase. However, it will be up to the operators on who to hire, McGraw said.

The jobs, which will not be minimum-wage jobs in the field, will be cross-trained positions and will be merit-based. The positions will range from assisting growers to scientists and chemists with PhDs, McGraw said. “This is an opportunity for a lot of residents to start their career in the cannabis industry,” he said. “We can’t promise that every job will (go) to someone in Mendota, but every job that we can fill locally, we will.”

Mendota will be the third small town in the Central Valley to try the cannabis commercial business. Under the development agreement between the city and the California-based cannabis commercial development and management company, Canna-Hub agreed to use its best efforts to employ city residents. Under that same agreement, Canna-Hub will remit $8 to Mendota per square-foot.

There will be indirect benefits, such as the economic stimulation on local businesses from those who may be hired from out of town.

The first marijuana dispensary expected to open in Woodlake will be located on a main street alongside other businesses.

Fresno and Clovis have banned the sales of recreational marijuana. The nearest location where people are able to get their hands on the recreational-use drug is in Woodlake, which has also ventured into the business. Coalinga saw the cannabis industry as a way to lift the city out of budget woes, but instead ended in a much worse shape, being forced to layoff city employees.

Mendota Councilman Robert Silva called Thursday a “historic” day for the city. The city is in “good shape financially” and this agreement was for “economic development,” he said.

“The public was behind us in support, and that’s why we moved forward,” he said. “In coming months, this cantaloupe facility will be transformed into one of the most sophisticated cannabis campus.”

Mendota Councilman Oscar Rosales said he was “happy” to see the business come into the city.

The city’s budget is around $2.2 million annually, he said, and Canna-Hub will generate around $800,000 a year for Mendota, he said. The city will be able to use the money to improve parks and roads, for example.

“That’s basically a third of our budget,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that we can utilize that money for.”

Mendota Councilman Jesse Mendoza called the endeavor a “trial and error” on what will be the city’s largest economic engine. “It was a very controversial issue,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but we factored in everything. It’s a calculated risk.”

Establishing a dispensary in Mendota is not an option at this point, Mendoza said.

California this year joined a handful of other states across the nation in legalizing recreational marijuana.

Yesenia Amaro: 559-441-6144, @YeseniaAmaro

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