SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam attended the grand opening of Golden Piedmont Lab in South Boston on Thursday. The lab is Virginia’s first large-scale hemp processing and CBD oil extraction facility.
“The wine is $20 more expensive in Napa than it is in Sonoma Valley,” said Sterling Edmunds, Co-Chairman of Golden Piedmont Labs. “Why is that? Branding. So our vision is to brand Southside Virginia…as the Napa Valley when it comes to hemp and CBD.”
Hemp is an easy crop to switch over to from tobacco.
“The same way that it goes from seed into a greenhouse and then goes out into the fields and is harvested and then is dried just like tobacco,” said Steve Mize, President of Golden Piedmont Labs.
Mize says when Golden Piedmont is fully operational next week, they’ll be the largest hemp processor east of the Mississippi River based on their output. He says in an eight-hour shift, the lab can produce 5,000 pounds of hemp biomass.
With the lab comes 22 jobs in South Boston paying at least $15 an hour. The company says the demand for hemp could create even more jobs.
“If you look at the farm,” said Edmunds, “it could be thousands of jobs, of high-paying jobs in Southside Virginia.”
“This benefits our farmers,” said Northam, “certainly benefits this production facility here, and it’s really going to help a lot of people with the CBD oil, which has a lot of uses, especially in health care.”
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring sees this as a big win for Southside.
“I remember Martinsville and Danville as a child and how robust the economy was there,” said Ring, “and so it’s exciting to see that attention being brought back to this community to do all we can for southern Virginia and to lift up our rural communities.”