CHATHAM — A cannabis business that grows and infuses marijuana into specialty products is eyeing a long-vacant building in Chatham.
Ayman Haswah and Ahmad “Eddie” Shaban, owners of two South Side beverage and liquor stores, are proposing to open the business at 7401 S. State St., next to an Aldi grocery store.
Under the name Guaranteed Investments, they would grow about 6,000 pounds of cannabis every three months, representatives said at a community meeting last week hosted by Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th).
Once the business secures partnerships with retailers, workers also would create cannabis-infused products like hard candies, inhalers, cooking oils and drinks. The business would not sell directly to customers, but to other dispensaries around town, representatives said.
Renovating the building could cost up to $10 million, a company representative said. If approved, the cannabis cultivation site would be the first of its kind in the neighborhood.
Caryn Shaw, an attorney representing Guaranteed Investments, said the cannabis cultivator will make “an unproductive piece of land productive again.”
“I know that there are a lot of studies out there [that say] to improve the health of the community, it’s important to have greenery, plants and things like that,” Shaw said. “There’s going to be shrubbery, trees and attractive concrete work.”
Neighbor Gaylord Thomas said at the meeting he thinks the business will benefit the community and bring the vacant structure back “to life.” Learning the facility isn’t a dispensary that sells directly to the public secured his vote, he said.
“I was concerned because we live across the alley from where [the business] will be,” Thomas said. “But it’s not a dispensary, so there won’t be traffic or noise. We need to generate tax revenue for our community, and this will do that.”
In addition to beautifying the space, Shaw said the business will create at least 20 full-time jobs staffed from the community, and they will have benefits, including disability insurance, professional education and paid time off.
Sawyer said he thinks the business is the best way to use the vacant building.
“This is a building with no windows on the expressway that has a loading dock, so it’s kind of perfect for this type of operation,” Sawyer said. “It’ll generate tax revenue to the area, and it won’t interfere with anybody’s quality of life.”
If Sawyer backs it, the project could be reviewed by City Council committees later this year, Shaw said.
Hopefully, this will be the first of many businesses to come, Sawyer said.
“I’m hoping that we have more opportunities for business in our business corridors and more engagement from the community,” Sawyer said. “We’re not going to get anywhere if people don’t show up and express something.”
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