An abandoned factory in the middle of downtown Danville seems an odd place for one of Pennsylvania’s first medical marijuana facilities, but Pennyslvania’s Department of Health tabbed it as a perfect location to jumpstart what could be one of the state’s next big industries, along with providing much-needed medical relief for patients who have waited for this news.

The Valley is fortunate to be on the ground floor. Only a dozen sites were selected statewide as growing locations, and the Montour County site will offer easy access to dispensaries across the commonwealth.

Green Thumb Industries, an Illinois-based firm, made a strong early impression this week, putting officials on-site less than 24 hours after the state made the announcement of the bid. Partners were in Danville Wednesday morning to view the Iron Town Commerce Center, and see what’s next. GTI, whose CEO is Bucknell graduate Pete Kadens, was one of the lucky 12 firms selected by the state, its established record in the industry likely a key to it winning.

GTI, like all firms selected in this opening rollout, now has six months to get up and running in Danville. It expects to bring up to 50 jobs immediately with the potential of 100 when fully operational. Low-end wages are expected to start at $14 per hour. “We wanted to bring good-paying jobs,” said Andy Grossman, a company partner with GTI.

The project is similar in scope and size to a project GTI developed in Illinois; company officials are confident they can finish within the tight window. “We’ve felt this pressure before,” Kadens said. “You can’t afford to slow down.”

Out of the gate, GTI officials appear to understand that becoming a vital community partner and educating the general public will be a key to success. Initial social media posts to the news clearly demonstrated a lack of understanding for what GTI and similar companies will be doing in these 12 locations. 

As was the case when a Milton-area farm was selected for an industrial hemp farm, an important role for GTI will be reassure the Valley that “marijuana” as it will be grown in Montour County does not warrant the stigma it’s recreational counterpart endures. It’s an unfortunate reality Kadens and his partners have previously dealt with and something local officials should aid this new venture in by spreading the word.

GTI officials have made a solid first impression across just about every front.