Words by Jack Kane
Jobs are coming to Murray because of something grown in Western Kentucky. The new HempWood factory is the first of its kind and is creating an alternative to oak wood. Founder and CEO Greg Wilson says they plan on adding jobs throughout the year and it could help ease the loss of Briggs and Stratton.
"We're three miles East of Briggs and Stratton, so we're adding two people per month for the rest of the year, and then we'll reassess what we need to do based on our production output," said Wilson.
Wilson and Congressman James Comer cut the ribbon for the new factory on Monday and then demonstrated how the HempWood logs are made. Wilson says the boards can be used for wood working products and flooring. He says it can be put to use quicker than normal wood.
"We're taking something that grows in six months and we're able to replicate, or out perform, a tropical hardwood that grows in 200 years," said Wilson.
HempWood is partnering with Murray State University to keep the work in our region to benefit local hemp farmers and Murray State students.
"From internships to future jobs," said Dr. Bob Jackson, President at Murray State University. "Teaching and learning from an agricultural standpoint, business standpoint, chemistry standpoint, and I could go on and on. So there's a lot of different components of the university assisting HempWood."
Wilson says the company hopes to add another press to the factory by next year to double the amount of employees in the factory. At the moment the factory has eight workers, and is looking to add eight more by the end of the year.