More and more entrepreneurs in a variety of fields are embracing the versatility of hemp. According to Greg Wilson, Hempwood leader, “Oak is out. Hemp is in.”
Fibonacci, the company behind the product says HempWood, is a reverse-engineered wood substitute with advantages over traditional oak hardwood, which include a higher availability, a much quicker grow time of six months, and a 20 percent higher density. HempWood is suitable for furniture, flooring, and other woodworking projects.
Wilson’s 15,600-square-feet factory officially open for business in Kentucky in August. At the opening ceremony Wilson said “We’re taking something that grows in six months and we’re able to able to replicate, if not out-perform, a tropical hardwood that grows in 200 years.”
Farmers, both local and from surrounding counties, will provide the raw material, estimated at $1 million a year and will generate another $1 million a year on labor, according to a report by WPSD Local 6 News.
The HempWood plant will run two presses over two shifts. Roughly 12 employees and three managers are needed per shift and the plant aims to double that by the end of the year. Wilson is taking job applications at [email protected] and will hire two people each month through the year’s end. The plant had eight employees at the time of opening.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved $300,000 in tax incentives for the operation. The incentives, based on performance, will allow Fibonacci to keep some of its investment by meeting job and investment targets. The company will also receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services from the Kentucky Skills Network.
“The commonwealth’s burgeoning hemp industry is quickly gaining national attention, and this exciting project will significantly intensify that spotlight,” Kentucky’s Governor Matt Bevin said. “This hardwood alternative opens up new possibilities within the construction and woodworking industries and emphasizes the capabilities hemp has across numerous sectors. We are grateful to Greg Wilson and Fibonacci LLC for locating the United States’ first HempWood operation in Kentucky, and we look forward to the powerful impact the company will have on the region’s economy and the overall industry.”
WPSD Local 6 News reported that HempWood is also partnering with Murray State University to keep the work in the region to benefit local hemp farmers and Murray State students.
“From internships to future jobs,” said Dr. Bob Jackson, President at Murray State University. “Teaching and learning from an agricultural standpoint, business standpoint, chemistry standpoint, and I could go on and on. So there’s a lot of different components of the university assisting HempWood.”
Wilson’s inspiration to create HempWood came from working at a bamboo flooring company. He co-owns SmartOak, manufacturers of engineered wood products from waste logs.
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