Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin congratulated Fibonacci LLC as company leaders, along with local officials, opened their $5.8 million-plus, 25-job HempWood manufacturing facility in Murray.
“Kentucky continues to lead the way in the rapidly growing hemp industry, and the opening of Fibonacci’s HempWood facility highlights that progress,” Gov. Bevin said. “This company is developing a product unlike anything else on the market, and we are grateful they have selected the commonwealth for this innovative venture. We congratulate Fibonacci and the Calloway County community on their strong partnership and look forward to an exciting future ahead.”
Following the project’s announcement in March, Fibonacci leased a 15,000-square-foot facility in Murray for its automated HempWood manufacturing operation. The plant will produce sustainable wood made from hemp fiber and soy-based adhesives.
Company leaders selected Murray because of a relationship with Murray State University, which established a Center for Agricultural Hemp the same month. Currently, the company contracts with West Kentucky growers for 2,000 tons of hemp stalks and plans to purchase 20 percent more next year.
“This new facility will be the first step in our roll out of HempWood and provides the ability to produce up to a million board feet of four-quarter lumber per year,” said Greg Wilson, the company’s founder and CEO. “We look to sell these boards to end customers and downstream manufacturers for use in flooring, furniture and home goods made in the USA.”
“As a lifetime Calloway County resident, I am proud to help establish HempWood here,” operations manager Phill McCallon said. “The community is also excited to welcome this new and innovative product to Murray.”
Wilson and his team developed HempWood and patented the manufacturing process throughout the past decade. HempWood offers advantages over traditional oak hardwood, including higher feedstock availability. Hemp stalks grow in six months, compared to oak trees, which take decades. As well, Wilson said processed hemp can reach 20 percent higher density than oak, which provides sustainability and hardness. HempWood can be used in products ranging from flooring and furniture to woodworking projects and culinary serving boards.
Wilson formed Fibonacci in March 2018 following 15 years of experience, research and development in the wood products industry. Wilson also co-owns SmartOak – www.smartoak.com.au – which creates engineered wood from logs that would otherwise be chipped. Fibonacci uses technology popularized by China’s strand-woven bamboo industry, in addition to SmartOak tech, which originated in Australia. Dewevai Buchanan, the company’s commercial director, is an internationally recognized product expert with 25 years of experience in hardwood and décor manufacturing industries.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles welcomed the company to the commonwealth.
“I congratulate HempWood on this announcement and for joining the ranks of the many hemp companies looking to do business in Kentucky,” Commissioner Quarles said. “I look forward to following their progress in the years ahead.”
Sen. Stan Humphries, of Cadiz, expressed thanks for the company’s commitment to Murray and Kentucky.
“It is always a privilege to announce new investments and job opportunities for our commonwealth,” Sen. Humphries said. “With a rapidly growing demand for industrial hemp, I would like to extend my gratitude to HempWood for this world-class investment to Kentucky manufacturing and the Murray community.”
Rep. Larry Elkins, of Murray, said he is glad to see the resurgent hemp industry positively impact the West Kentucky region.
“The comeback of industrial hemp is a terrific Kentucky success story, as more and more people are beginning to recognize its growing impact on our West Kentucky economy,” Rep. Elkins said. “The fact that hemp can be used to manufacture wood products speaks highly of the many opportunities this crop can provide for our farmers, while also supplying jobs in manufacturing. I want to thank Fibonacci for their trust and confidence in Murray, and I look forward to seeing a new employment opportunity for some of our families.”
Murray Mayor Bob Rogers said HempWood’s arrival comes at an opportune time.
“On the heels of the recent plant closure, it is wonderful to see this announcement,” Mayor Rogers said. “This product is innovative, sustainable and should have good prospects for growth. We are proud to have them in our area.”
Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes said he is glad to see the company work with local farmers.
“I am always proud of projects that take advantage of our natural resources and provide good opportunities for our farmers,” Judge-Executive Imes said. “Working with Murray State and our other partners makes me confident that this and other hemp-related companies will do well in Calloway County.”
Mark Manning, president of Murray-Calloway Economic Development Corp., said the operation could represent a new market with high growth potential.
“I fully believe that fiber is the future for hemp,” Manning said. “I am glad that we were able to work with the Cabinet for Economic Development to provide incentives for what I feel will be a very successful venture.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) on February preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program.
The performance-based agreement can provide up to $300,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $5.8 million and annual targets of:
• Creation and maintenance of 25 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years
• Paying an average hourly wage of $20 including benefits across those jobs
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, Fibonacci can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.