Founder's Hemp will soon be expanding

By: Courier Tribune

August 22, 2019

ASHEBORO — Asheboro’s Founder’s Hemp will soon be expanding its operation — if its application for a building reuse grant be accepted.

Kevin Franklin, president of the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation, appeared before the Asheboro City Council in a special meeting Tuesday evening in order to obtain approval from the city to allow Founder’s Hemp to submit its application for the grant.

“Founder’s Hemp is among the first hemp companies established in North Carolina,” Franklin told council members. “It’s been operating in Asheboro since 2017, essentially since as long as it’s been permitted for them to operate.”

The company has experienced rapid growth, according to Franklin, which has necessitated enhanced processing capabilities to meet growing demands.

The company plans to renovate a portion of its existing facility that is currently being used as warehouse space.

The renovated space would include new equipment and five new clean rooms, and carry an estimated price tag of $310,000.

“We believe that to be a low estimate, but a safe estimate,” Franklin said. “And then, of course, there’s going to be additional related investment in equipment and machinery in the $50,000 range as well.”

Founder’s Hemp is eligible for a $150,000 grant that would allow it to expand through the N.C. Department of Commerce.

The city would serve as the grant applicant, due to the program requiring that the applicant be a unit of local government.

“The grant program also requires a 5% local government match to the grant amount. That would total $7,500 based on this $150,000 grant request,” Franklin said.

He added that if the city council approved the application, he would then approach Randolph County government and request that it participate with 50% of that grant match.

Currently, Founder’s Hemp employees 62 full-time employees. Following the renovation, ”(The project) should increase the value of the building, generate new investment, equipment and machinery, and result in the creation of 15 quality new jobs,” Franklin said.

Owen George also spoke before the council as a representative of the U.S. Small Business Administration, reassuring council members that the hemp industry is recognized as a legitimate and legal industry all across the country.

“For us who work in the field of business development in North Carolina, quite frankly, we’re very excited about the growth in hemp industries,” George said. “It’s bringing a lot of value to our farmers. It’s helping to replace the tobacco that so many families depended on for generations here.”

Founder’s Hemp owner Bob Crumley thanked the council for the support it has shown since the start of the company.

“You were the first city in the state of North Carolina to open its city area for our hemp processing facility to be built,” he said.

Crumley added that he sees a successful future for the hemp business.

“Hemp was the first cash crop in North Carolina, and where hemp grew well, tobacco then grew well, and now hemp will grow well again. That prophecy is coming true all over North Carolina.”

Founder’s Hemp President Jamie Crumley concluded by noting the rapid growth of the business and her hopes for the renovation.

“This next step of our project will allow us to expand our company and create more jobs as well as to increase the footprint that we have in the city,” she said.

Following the presentation and public hearing, the council unanimously approved adopting a resolution for the city to pursue the economic development project by submitting an application for the building reuse grant.

By Jamie Biggs