Grow West company expanding business
State supporting design concept for autonomous vehicle test track in Frostburg
CUMBERLAND — Allegany County Board of Commissioners approved Thursday the expansion of an established medical marijuana business in Cumberland and a concept study for constructing an autonomous vehicle testing track in Frostburg.
The vote to approve the two economic development measures was conducted at Thursday’s regular meeting of the commissioners at the county office complex on Kelly Road.
The three-member commission voted unanimously to permit Manticorp LLC, a subsidiary of the medical cannabis manufacturer Grow West MD, to lease an additional 30,000 square feet of space at the former Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. complex at the Riverside Industrial Park.
Grow West MD was awarded a medical marijuana growers license by the state and began operations at the industrial park in late 2017.
“In their short time in Allegany County, they have now over 90 jobs at the facility,” said Brandon Butler, county administrator. “With this new expansion in Building 27, they are looking at hiring 50 to 70 more full-time jobs that will be ongoing. They are also dedicated to using local labor to the tune of about 80 to 100 jobs to retrofit and expand that building.”
Commission President Jake Shade had praise for Grow West MD.
“They are a wonderful community partner,” said Shade. “We are very happy with them being located here. They have invested $8 million to $10 million in that facility already. We wish them well in their effort to continue to expand that business.”
The commissioners also voted unanimously to authorize the Maryland Department of Economic Development to advertise a request for proposal for the completion of a conceptual study for an automated test track facility to be located in Frostburg.
Butler said the precise location of the proposed two-mile test track has yet to be determined.
“You recall back in September last year, Gov. Larry Hogan commissioned a task force regarding the feasibility of an automated vehicle facility to be located in Allegany County,” said Butler. “We’ve been to a number of places and this task force has made contact with a number of organizations both on the governmental side of things as well as some key businesses that everybody would know,” Butler said.
“They said build a track and they will come and test. Right now the tracks that are being used most heavily are in Ohio and Michigan. The trouble with those is that they are all flat. We have a number of mountainous areas to test these vehicles. Right now they are telling us … we need a concept of operations and a price point so we can invest. That is what this RFP is set to do. We want it to be posted Sept. 16 and proposal due date Oct. 7 and have a final document back by Dec. 16, which would give the lucky winner two months to complete (the design study) so we can move this concept forward which will be a partnership with Frostburg State University,” he said.
Commissioner Creade Brodie Jr. favored the measure.
“I do believe the governor has previously promised funding to help build the track,” said Brodie. “We want to do this as quick as possible.”
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.