An old building in Pueblo County, Colorado will be receiving some seriously new pop in 2019 after a group of canna-capitalists turn a once-abandoned Pepsi factory into one of the state’s largest, and most technically advanced cannabis grow operations, with the capacity to produce 70,000 pounds of pot per year.
According to Business Insider, the 104,000 square foot facility is the brainchild of Doyen Elements, a financial holding company doing their best to facilitate every part of the legal weed industry, without actually touching the bud itself. Once renovated, the company will lease out the cavernous space to one or more licensed growers.
The space, capable of producing more than $20 million worth of weed every year, was once a major manufacturing hub and bottling plant for Pepsi, but like most of the industrial jobs in Pueblo County, the factory has been closed for over a decade, left abandoned on the side of a desolate highway.
The repurposing of the soda factory is just the latest instance of Colorado’s cannabis industry revitalizing Pueblo County. Since the first legal pot shop opened in Pueblo in 2014, the county has welcomed over 100 dispensaries, grow ops, and production facilities, bringing the struggling community over 1,300 new jobs in the past few years. In 2015, more than 30% of the county’s new construction projects were in some way connected to the marijuana industry.
The legal weed market has brought a new sense of hope, and millions of tax dollars to the small town, even allowing for the country’s first explicit pot-to-college tax dollar pipeline, allowing Pueblo’s graduating high schoolers to attend community college thanks to funding derived from local cannabis taxes.
Once complete, the Pepsi plant grow-op will be equipped with the newest in cannabis technology, including robotic cultivation machines and a repurposing of the factory’s CO2 filtration to help feed the thousands of cannabis plants. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of jobs for local humans as well.
To secure the local permits and licenses necessary to repurpose the factory, representatives from Doyen Elements had to go door-to-door in the surrounding community to drum up support for the project. And while some places might be skeptical of a factory-sized cannabis operation opening next door, Doyen Elements CEO Geoff Thompson said the facility had full support of the local neighborhood.
"They asked when they're going to have jobs there," Thompson said.
And by 2019 the facility will make good on that promise, bringing more than 150 jobs to the community, and tens of thousands of pounds of weed to Colorado’s persistently exploding cannabis industry.