CUMBERLAND — A medical cannabis grower is hoping to lease space at the site of the former Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. on Cumberland's West Side.

Grow West MD is seeking to gain the approval of the Allegany County Commission to lease — with an option to buy — space at the Riverside Industrial Park. The expansive facility was last used by Biederlack of Maryland as a warehouse and distribution center. Prior to that, the space was occupied by Kelly-Springfield.

Grow West MD was selected for a stage one medical cannabis growing license by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission in August 2016. The license was for a Garrett County location. Grow West is currently looking at sites in Garrett County for a facility.

The site in Cumberland will offer Grow West additional space. Grow West has established a second company — Manticorp, LLC — for its Allegany County venture. 

A vote on the Manticorp lease, by the three-person county commission, will take place Thursday evening at the county office complex on Kelly Road.

Grow West may locate much of its operation at the Cumberland site in the future. To move the entire business to Cumberland will require approval from the state commission.

"If they are approved (by the commission), they (Grow West) can move the license to Allegany County," said Jake Shade, county commission president. "They plan on coming to Cumberland if possible. It will be good for the local economy."

The total number of employees working in medical cannabis growing operations varies. However, startups typically hire 40 to 50 people with that number potentially reaching 100 employees.

Shade said the county commissioners are likely to vote in favor of the lease agreement.

"I think it will pass," said Shade. "We'd be happy to have them as long as they can move the business."

Grow West was approved to locate in District 1, which includes Allegany, Garrett and the western portion of Washington County. However, Grow West applied for Garrett County.

They have looked at sites in Garrett County at Oakland, Grantsville, Accident and the Keyser's Ridge Business Park.

Shade said commissioners had been open to leasing to Peak Harvest Health to locate a grow operation at the site of the former Kelly-Springfield. Peak Harvest wanted to establish a growing operation at the site but were not granted a license by the state commission.

"They (Grow West/Manticorp.) want to (lease to) buy a building owned by the county," said Shade. "I would like to see them succeed. They will pay taxes. It will be good for our area. 

"There are local people involved. They want to do a regulated grow operation in the state of Maryland and we are happy they want to come to Cumberland," Shade said.

Final approval for Grow West's plans and facilities must be approved by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. Final approval could come sometime this year.

Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine said he "welcomes" Grow West and hopes they are successful with their plans.

Representatives of Grow West/Manticorp. declined to comment on the story Wednesday. A representative of Manticorp, Kevin Gibbs, is expected to attend the Thursday county meeting.

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