County, city approve tax abatements
A new manufacturer is coming to Phenix City.
Arbor Vita8 LLC is a commercial processor and wholesaler of hemp and hemp products located on Copeland Drive near JVL Laboratories. While hemp does have THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, it is an especially low content and has no psychoactive effects.
According to sources, “Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. It is one of the fastest growing plants and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 50,000 years ago. It can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.”
The company is in the process of renovating the 75,000-square-feet building and will offer 14 jobs by the end of its first year, four of which will be in management, along with two engineers and eight hourly employees—all with competitive salaries.
Phenix City Economic Development Manager Shaun Culligan presented a five-year noneducational tax abatement to the Russell County commission at the August 26 regular session. Since the business is in the police jurisdiction, the abatement needed approval by the county as well as the city. Property taxes for the five-year period come to $845 per year for the county’s portion—a total investment of $4,225. Phenix City unanimously approved the abatement at the regular session on Sept. 1, and the construction of the project will involve a capital investment of $3,471.500 from the city.
“The pay is fantastic, especially for our area,” Culligan said. “We’re very excited about that.”
All commissioners, except for Ronnie Reed and Carl Currington (absent), voted to approve the abatement.
“I can’t support this,” Reed said. “It’s only 14 jobs, and we’re not making that much money on the property taxes as it is anyway…I feel like we need the revenue…”
“I’m not big on wanting to do a lot of abatements, but when we do one it ought to be to create jobs,” Commissioner Chance Corbett said. “That’s definitely what this is doing…this is a very small investment on the county’s end.”
“This could be of potential benefit not only to this county, but to local farmers,” Commission Chair Gentry Lee said.
According to Sheriff Heath Taylor, there are now 13 licensed hemp farmers in Russell County, but Arbor Vita8 is the only processor in the area. The company started in 2019 as investors in hemp cultivation in California, but they had a run of bad luck when the processor who’d promised to harvest the material took the money and ran off to Mexico. They found another processor, which wasn’t easy since every other processor was booked, but then that processor ghosted them. In starting over, they decided to go big to resolve the processing bottleneck. They hired the best, most experienced people in drying and extracting and moved their operation all the way from California to Russell County. Since their move here, Arbor Vita8 has invested approximately $2.3 million in drying and processing equipment and has invested a total of over $3.4 million. For more information on Arbor Vita8, please visit their website at ArborVita8.com.