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To no surprise, Green Thumb Industries Oglesby, LLC in Oglesby was approved by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to grow recreational marijuana that becomes legal Jan. 1.

In September, Oglesby Mayor Dom Rivara told Shaw Media reporter Tom Collins that Green Thumb Industries was investing $10.5 million into the city’s existing facility

That brings the number of cultivation centers for recreational use in Illinois to 14.

Currently, only cultivation centers licensed to grow medical marijuana can apply for early approval adult-use growth.

“The addition of two more cultivation centers to grow for adult-use leaves seven early approval cultivation licenses available,” said Jeff Cox, IDOA Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants. “The deadline for cultivation centers to apply to grow for adult-use is Dec. 23, so we expect more licenses to be issued in coming weeks.”

Oglesby’s is the lone cultivation center approved in La Salle County. One was approved in Dwight in neighboring Livingston County. Others are in Lincoln, Kankakee, Joliet, Aurora, Hillcrest, Barry, Anna, Rock Island, Litchfield, Vermont and Delavan.

GTI said the expansion project likely will start in the spring of 2020 after engineering design and permitting stages.

“GTI looks forward to bringing additional jobs to Oglesby as we invest in expansion and increase capacity in Illinois to meet increased demand from the medical program and adult use sales beginning Jan. 1, 2020,” the company said in a statement.

Social equity applicants will have additional opportunities to apply for cultivation center licenses in an upcoming phase, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity determined disproportionately affected areas using criteria established in the new state law. To qualify as a disproportionately impacted area, a census tract must have high rates of arrest, conviction and incarceration related to marijuana, among other qualifications, including poverty, citizens qualifying for food assistance benefits and unemployment.

Areas of Ottawa and La Salle were the lone areas highlighted in La Salle County. The area in Ottawa includes most of the city north of Norris Drive to Interstate 80. In La Salle, the area includes downtown and the neighborhood to its east and northeast.

If an applicant for a commercial marijuana license comes from one of these areas, the state would use that as a significant factor in deciding whether or not to grant them a license. The state may also help the applicant with technical assistance and support on everything from putting together a business plan to applying for a license, additional points on their applications for a license to operate a cannabis business, as well as an opportunity to apply for a low-interest loan from the state.

Shaw Media reporter Tom Collins contributed to this report

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