Courtesy Photo
A former refrigerator parts plant is seen in Harrisville on Tuesday. A developer has purchased the old plant and intends to build a recreational marijuana growing and processing facility there.

HARRISVILLE — Harrisville may soon be one of the few municipalities in Northeast Michigan opening its arms to recreational marijuana businesses.

Harrisville Mayor Jeff Gehring said this week that a pair of developers are in the process of trying to capitalize on the growing marijuana business landscape.

One investor has purchased an old refrigerator parts plant near Harrisville State Park and intends to open a marijuana growing and processing facility there, according to Gehring.

A second developer plans to open a recreational marijuana dispensary in as little as a few weeks, Gehring said. It would be the first recreational marijuana shop to open in Alcona County.

Although it is early in the process and environmental assessments are still in progress, Gehring believes the investments could create a domino effect, which would benefit the city.

Gehring said the tax collected from recreational marijuana can’t be put into the city’s general fund, but it can be used for law enforcement and other public safety needs.

“That is a need we have and could use the extra revenue to increase patrols,” he said. “We have a problem with people speeding down Main Street, and that would help us increase patrols and address that.”

If the businesses open, Gehring hopes other investors will come to Alcona County — and Harrisville, in particular — to take advantage of the increased traffic. He anticipates more people will come to town for the marijuana businesses, bringing demand for more food options and shopping.

“We can use this as a building block to get other industries to come and open restaurants or things like boutique shops,” Gehring said. “I think this could just be the beginning, and there will be more great opportunities to come. This is really exciting.”

Having the old plant demolished and hauled away is another bonus, Gehring said. He said the plant has stood unused for many years.

“It has been in a dilapidated state and it is just a horrible eyesore,” Gehring said. “People pull out of the state park and it is the first thing they see. It is old, dangerous, and it is important to everyone that it is removed.”

The timeline for the growing and processing facility is a little more clouded, as the owner is still moving forward with environmental studies and the state’s licensing process.

Gehring said he has communicated with the investors often and he is confident both projects will come to fruition.

“We are working closely with them, and we will work closely with other businesses that want to come,” he said.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at Follow him on Twitter

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