How medical marijuana saved the Town of Smiths Falls’ economy
Four years ago, the Town of Smiths Falls, Ont., took a chance when it welcomed Tweed Inc. to town. The company has since become one of the country’s biggest medical cannabis producers.
When it bought what used to house a Hershey chocolate factory back in 2013, it started out with a few dozen jobs.
“Our future won’t be the past. We’re not going to be the blue-collar industrial town we once were,” Smiths Falls Mayor Shawn Pankow said.
With the additions of a client call centre, packaging rooms, a distribution centre and even more growing rooms, Tweed’s employee base is nearing 300, and matching the more than 600 from Hershey’s peak isn’t out of the question – in fact, there are currently 70 open jobs listed on the company’s website.
Tweed has quickly become the largest employer in Smiths Falls.
“What that means to the town is huge,” Cyril Cooper, economic development manager for Smiths Falls said. “We’re already in the business development side working with companies that want to support that cluster, that development.”
Expansion plans announced earlier this summer mean the company will have a footprint as far west as Alberta, and as far east as New Brunswick.
The move was made in order to meet the demand for recreational cannabis, in time for next year’s legalization.
And while it strives to become a global brand, company representatives want to stay true to their roots.
“Our origin and story start in the Hershey chocolate factory,” Tweed communications manager Jordan Sinclair said.
“We’re proud that this is our headquarters and that will never change.”
Expansion plans at the Smiths Falls facility will see the production of edibles, which they say includes chocolate bars – a full-circle trip of sorts for the old Hershey factory.