Business promises 150 new jobs

As reported in the Nov. 7 edition of The News-Herald

An industrial hemp processing business promises to bring 150 jobs to Owenton after recently taking possession of the former Itron building.

Lilu’s Garden, the nation’s largest state-of-the-art hemp processing company specializing in the manufacturing of derivatives from industrial hemp, will be hiring warehouse and maintenance workers, drivers, manufacturing processors and engineers with salaries ranging from minimum wage to more than $100,000 per year, according to a press release.

The company expects to be up and running as soon as next month and will hold job fairs to recruit and fill the positions in November and December. Eligible employees will also receive a benefits package including health insurance benefits, dental and vision coverage and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

The announcement comes on the heels of reports last week that Pounds of Plastic, Inc. — a supplier to the automotive and general manufacturing industries — would also locate to Owenton in the coming months. The company’s announcement comes as welcome news for the City of Owenton following Itron’s closure earlier this year.

For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the city was forced to slash $230,000 from its budget, making cuts in nearly every department due in part to the loss of payroll taxes from Itron. The company, based out of Denver, Colorado, has the potential to become Owen County’s largest employer, according to Owenton Mayor David “Milkweed” Wotier. “This is great news for Owenton and everyone that lives in Owen County,” Wotier said. “I speak on behalf of the city council members and residents of Owenton in welcoming Lilu’s Garden, and we look forward to working toward (the company’s) success.”

Echoing Wotier’s sentiments, Owen County Judge-Executive Casey Ellis said he’s excited for the potential opportunities Lilu’s Garden brings to the community.“ We are looking forward to working with Lilu’s Garden as they have chosen Owen County as their midwest home of production,” Ellis said. “They will not only be filling an empty building and creating jobs at their facility, but the partnership between Lilu’s Garden and our local farmers also has the potential to transform Owen County.” In 2005, Congress introduced The Industrial Hemp Farming Act, seeking to amend hemp’s classification as a Schedule I substance, which defined hemp as a drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

The current Congress introduced expanded versions of the act, deregulating the sale of hemp, in the new Farm Bill, which has yet to be passed. In its announcement Oct. 29, Lilu’s Garden commended U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Representative James Comer for their efforts toward the Farm Bill. “The legislation will create a new, legal industry category for hemp and all its derivatives,” the announcement read. “Hemp derivative ingredients are used in products including cosmetics, food and beverage, pet care, nutraceuticals and tobacco.” Charles Ciancanelli, president of Lilu’s Garden, said the company has already received a “warm Kentucky welcome.”

“We are very excited at the opportunity to open our next facility here in Owenton,” Ciancanelli said. “We’ve received a warm Kentucky welcome from the entire community, from elected officials to our new neighbors, and we’re looking forward to providing good jobs and new opportunities for Owen County. We’re already working closely with many local farmers who will be growing hemp during the next growing season for our business and our customers across the nation.”

The hemp industry has been making headlines across the Commonwealth this year, and a similar business was announced in Trigg County last week, according to the Kentucky New Era.