Economy

$5.8 million Kentucky plant plans to make wood from hemp

$5.8 million Kentucky plant plans to make wood from hemp
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With production set to begin this summer, HempWood maker Fibonacci is leasing an 11,230 sqft. facility in Kentucky to start its first major manufacturing operation. The patent-pending HempWood is a reverse-engineered wood substitute that Greg Wilson, Fibonacci's owner, believes has tremendous potential as a renewable alternative to oak wood.

Wilson, a co-owner of SmartOak, which makes wood products from log waste, was inspired to start HempWood after working in bamboo flooring. Having already contracted over 800 tons of hemp stalks through growers across the state, the plant will be creating 25 full-time jobs and looks forward to becoming an active producer in Kentucky's manufacturing and agricultural communities.

Fibonnaci plans to make HempWood available in boards, blocks, and flooring, as well as finished products, at lower price points than traditional oak hardwood. It can be used for flooring, furniture and a wide variety of woodworking projects, and its advantages are many: better availability, faster grow times, and 20 percent more density when compared to oak.

With $300,000 in tax incentives approved by Kentucky's Economic Development Finance Authority, Fibonnaci plans to keep some of its investment by adhering to targets. The Kentucky Skills Network will also be offering the company free recruitment and job placement services.

Kentucky's governor, Matt Bevin, stated, "The commonwealth’s burgeoning hemp industry is quickly gaining national attention, and this exciting project will significantly intensify that spotlight.” With an eye on the vast possibilities of renewable hardwood alternatives, Bevin looks forward to seeing the impact Fibonacci will have on the area's economy, as well as the wider construction and woodworking industries.