Alderman says city should explore possibility of hemp production at Century City

DCD would be directed to study feasibility of production facility in business park

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:20 am

A Milwaukee alderman is proposing that the city look into the possibility of an industrial hemp facility at the Century City business park.

A resolution introduced by Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the Century City area, would direct the city’s Department of City Development to study the feasibility of creating a facility specifically for the production of industrial hemp.

According to the legislation text, the department would need to report its findings to the Common Council within 90 days of the study commencing. The resolution calls industrial hemp an “eco-friendly, versatile crop used worldwide for industrial and consumer products.”

Rainey could not be immediately reached for comment.

The resolution has so far not been scheduled to be considered by a Common Council committee, according to the city’s legislative website.

Bringing companies into the business park on Milwaukee’s northwest slide have proven to be a slow process, though city officials celebrated a significant milestone in those efforts recently. Good City Brewing announced last summer it was buying the Century City One industrial building near West Capitol Drive and North Hopkins Street; the city and General Capital had searched for a tenant for that building for more than two years.

Rainey’s resolution says Century City might have sufficient arable soil or appropriate infrastructure to produce industrial hemp hydroponically or through an alternate form of agriculture. The site may also meet the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s location requirements for hemp production.

Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for DCD, said the department is open to discussing the possibility but also pointed out that the development plan for the park set a target of 15 jobs per acre.

“There are jobs per acre goals at Century City, and that possibly could be a challenge for an agricultural use at Century City,” Fleming said, adding, “We’re very open to discussions with Alderman Rainey.”

Under a provision in the 2014 federal farm bill, the state Legislature passed a law in 2017 directing the DATCP to write an administrative rule within 90 days to set up an industrial hemp production pilot program. The rule became effective in March.

Since then, businesses and local governments have shown interest in the budding industry.

For instance, Sheboygan-based iHemp Alliance Medical LLC plans to build a nearly 49,000-square-foot industrial hemp growhouse.

In December, Milwaukee County issued a request for information on the possibility of growing hemp or establishing a Grow Education Resource Center at the Mitchell Park Domes as a means of generating revenue for the county. The RFI closes this evening.

Two state lawmakers who were instrumental in legalizing industrial hemp farming in Wisconsin say the crop’s return in 2018 exceeded expectations. They predict Wisconsin will be the top producer of hemp in the country within 10 years.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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