About 200 residents and local and state dignitaries gathered to celebrate the opening of Blue Sky Processing, the Palmetto State's newest hemp CBD processing plant.
After a ribbon cutting and champagne toast, guests toured the 15,000-square-foot facility near Gardens Corner in the Sheldon community. The company will invest approximately $3 million, create 16 jobs and help establish South Carolina as a leader in the space.
Company leadership and local and state officials, including state Sen. Tom Davis and Sen. Margie Bright Matthews and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, spoke about Blue Sky's groundbreaking work in a burgeoning industry and praised the work of John O'Toole and the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation in helping bring the business to the county.
"We all love the Lowcountry," said Jennifer Pfuhl, president of Blue Sky. "We explored opportunities to take our processing operation into spaces with more advanced hemp programs, but unanimously decided South Carolina was the place to be."
Pfuhl said one of the factors contributing to the company's decision was the "positive business environment we experienced at our first facility - Maptech Packaging on Hilton Head Island. We were excited to experience more of that when we began looking in Northern Beaufort County. Being able to identify a site with proximity to Highway 21 and efficient access to the state's hemp growers made the decision a no-brainer."
While Blue Sky is not the first hemp processing facility in the state, it is unique, thanks to its proprietary Delta-9 Technologies extraction equipment -- the only automated hydrocarbon extraction system on the market.
Blue Sky expects to have plenty of hemp to process, thanks to South Carolina's commitment to the growing industry. Hugh Weathers, state Secretary of Agriculture, told the assembled crowd that new laws will increase the number of farmers allowed the cultivate industrial hemp from 40 in 2018 to 110 this year, with between 3,300 and 3,400 acres devoted to the crop statewide.
That's great news for Blue Sky, which has the capabilities for hemp toll processing, as well as the ability to develop bulk wholesale CBD products, and create white-label packaged products such as topical treatments, nutritional supplements, and even pet products.