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Norwalk dodged a bullet — and $20 million plus new jobs

• Updated Mar 8, 2018 at 2:42 PM

$20 million. 

That’s how much the investment in the medical marijuana growing facility will mean to the city of Huron.

A big front page headline in Thursday’s Sandusky Register trumpeting the project also noted the company plans to hire 75 full-time workers and this could grow to 150.

The past year’s big expansions at Borgers and New Horizons Bakery — recently touted by the Norwalk Economic Development Corporation at its annual investor’s breakfast — don’t even add up to this single project. Such opportunities are rare and don’t come knocking often.

Be all that as it may, based on beliefs that were no doubt largely shaped by a viewing of the campy 1936 movie “Refer Madness” at some point in their lives, this community’s leadership turned up its nose at the chance to secure such a facility. 

In addition to the construction jobs already created and the facility jobs to come, Huron will reap other benefits from hosting the Ohio Patients’ Choice cultivation facility. 

Attorney Jeff McCourt, representing the facility, noted to the Register that the company will commit money in the community to wellness-oriented programs and to the company’s nonprofit initiative to keep kids away from drugs and addressing addiction issues.

“We also want to create a community around high-tech agriculture, in conjunction with Mucci Farms,” McCourt said. “What we are doing is the future of agriculture and technology. This is a huge opportunity to turn Huron into a mecca of high-tech sustainable agriculture.”

Whew! We really dodged a bullet there.

The good things emanating from this project in Huron are a pretty far cry from the bleak, dystopian future predicted by Norwalk opponents of the facility which led one to believe that if Norwalk had welcomed it, it would be no time at all before we’d be a city of nothing but pawn shops and pay-day loan facilities with our kids dropping out of school in droves to shoot up marijuana that employees would smuggle out of the facility and roaming the streets in gangs committing crimes to pay for their next marijuana fix. You could picture them manically playing the piano faster and faster until they plunged to their deaths from the windows of the dilapidated, condemned buildings that would line our Main Street.

The scaremongering wasn’t quite that bad, but it wasn’t far off. 

There’s not really much to say about it now other than to ask that the next time a clean, high-tech, multi-million legal industry wants to locate in Norwalk, our leaders look at it analytically, with the best interest of the community prioritized over their personal prejudices. Meanwhile, as we watch Huron flourish, we may remind voters of that come election time.

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