Local man hopes to open large hemp extraction plant in Jenkins
A new business could be coming to Letcher County.
The hemp business is quickly growing and one man hopes Eastern Kentucky can take advantage of that.
Neal Spears says it is an untapped industry for the region.
"We're putting in the first industrial hemp extraction facility in Eastern Kentucky," said Spears.
Spears is the Director of Operations for East Kentucky Extractions.
"Eastern Kentucky is my heart and my home and I am kind of sick of seeing everybody else get a piece of this pie and we've been trying to get our own," Spears pointed out.
Spears says after the decline in the coal industry, jobs and people began to leave. He hopes to change that.
"With the help from our Senator Mitch McConnell, it's going to open up a lot of doorways for hemp to be grown, to be processed and everybody in this area can benefit from that," explained Spears.
On Wednesday, Spears and his team met with Jenkins city officials to talk about the new business. He hopes to use the old Ferus building at the Gateway Industrial Park.
Jenkins Mayor Todd DePriest says members of the company have taken the necessary steps to start the extraction plant.
"Well, from talking with the different people involved, they have hired an attorney, a CPA, and negotiated the lease on the building," explained Mayor DePriest.
However, he understands the stigma which surrounds hemp.
"You know, hemp brings up ideas of marijuana. It's two completely different things. It's regulated. There are a lot of laws and a lot of different pieces that they have to put together to be able to use it for what it's used for," DePriest pointed out.
From the day he found out about the industry, the mayor says he has learned many things about the business. DePriest says hemp can be used for many things from clothing to car parts.
"We're going to get the opportunity to do the things that everybody has talked about," said Spears.
A representative from Mitch McConnell's office met with business leaders to talk and learn more about the proposed plan.
Spears says he hopes to have the hemp extraction plant up and running this year.