New York’s legalization of marijuana for adult use has opened up a world of potential and increased revenue for Vireo Health, Inc., a manufacturer of cannabis products with a facility in Fulton County. Vireo is flourishing in Fulton County. In 2020, the company saw revenues of $49.2 million, up 64.3 percent from 2019.
In 2015, just a year after New York State legalized the medical use of cannabis, Vireo Health opened a 60,000 square-foot facility at Fulton County’s Tryon Technology Park in Perth and began supplying cannabis products for medical use the following year.
Vireo had been anticipating the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes in New York State, which took place on April 30, 2021. The company purchased 96 acres adjacent to its existing facility at the Tryon Technology Park in Perth and began the construction of a new building. The new facility will afford the company 300,000 additional square feet of cultivation and processing space to meet the demands of the changing marketplace in New York.
“We’re definitely expecting a large increase in production,” said Kaitlyn Nedo, General Manager of Vireo’s facility in Perth. “We have the potential for different production lines that haven’t been allowed in the medical market. The traditional whole flower is one of the more popular products on the recreational market.”
Nedo noted that there are other products, such as resin, pre-rolls, and extract types that the company may be able to explore producing in New York, but management is waiting for the official regulations to be handed down from the newly formed New York State Cannabis Control Board. Waiting for the rules to be defined does not seem to bother Nedo. “We’re used to regulations changing and being flexible and working with the market as it evolves,” she said.
The company has also been expanding its offering of cannabis products for medical use.
Vireo launched a line of whole flower products on October 31 and planned to have six strains available by the end of 2021. “Allowing the sale of medical cannabis in its natural form–as a dry flower–is the most effective way to reduce the cost of medical cannabis,” said Vireo’s Chairman and Chief Executive Office, Dr. Kyle Kingsley. “By offering dry flower, we can increase patient accessibility, affordability, and greatly expand our product offerings.”
The company has been increasing its workforce as demand for its products grows. Currently, it has 53 employees and plans to add more once construction of its new facility is complete in the first half of 2022.
Kingsley also emphasized the availability of a skilled workforce. “We have found that the greater Albany area has a tremendous amount of talent and human capital,” he said. “We’ve been able to hire scientists and are very impressed with the talents in the area.”
Nedo said that some of the job duties can be specific for lab and cultivation workers. For example, Vireo will hire production technicians who will focus solely on the production of cannabis flower products. “We can help train a local workforce,” said Nedo, noting that the company recently started an internship program with Fulton Montgomery Community College. The Fulton County native started her career with Vireo as a lab technician and learned the business as her career there progressed.
Fulton County’s long history of agribusiness brings some applicants who have experience with cultivating plants, such as farmers, greenhouse and nursery workers, and those who have worked at hydroponics supply stores.
Vireo Health, headquartered in Minneapolis, is one of 10 cannabis companies in the state. It operates four dispensaries in Albany, Queens, White Plains, and Binghamton as well as a home delivery service. The new facility in Fulton County will allow the company to produce many tons of cannabis per year for Vireo’s dispensaries as well as for wholesaling to other companies in New York.
The company found Tryon Technology Park to be a desirable place for growth for several reasons. “Specifically, where the park is located, it provides manufacturing companies with access to affordable space, to state-of-the-art infrastructure, and most importantly, access to the talent that comes from both Fulton County and the adjacent region,” Kingsley said.
“Being in Fulton County where the land is affordable and where the infrastructure—water, power, and broadband is available—that is something that was very attractive to us,” he said.
The most striking aspect of Tryon Technology Park is the flexibility that it has to offer incoming businesses, and Vireo is a case in point. Fulton County’s Industrial Development Agency is open to entertaining offers on various-sized parcels of land as well as bids on any of the buildings that remain, such as the former administration, maintenance, and tech class buildings. ”
“We’re largely looking at this mostly as empty land,” D’Amore, IDA Board member said. “We are willing to reconfigure the lot size as needed, and we’re more than willing to adjust appropriately based on the needs of the companies that are coming in,” he said, noting that the land is listed at $25,000 per acre. “The cost of land is advantageous.
Another benefit of doing business in Fulton County is the ease of working with the local government. “It’s not a place with a lot of red tape,” Kingsley said. “It’s a place that truly supports businesses and their desire to grow.”