Medicine Hat and region packs a ton of clout as a hub where large-scale agri-businesses can find solid ground with more than 45 percent of Alberta’s total greenhouse production area at almost 40,000 square metres.
The southeastern Alberta city is set to grow that number after attracting one of the largest producers and distributors of hemp-derived THC-free cannabidiol (CBD) oil in the United States. Folium Biosciences is bringing its water-soluble technology and one-of-a-kind extraction processes north of the border with plans for a 10,200-square-metre facility to support processing, extraction and purification.
“We always look for a city that is open, wants us to be there and wants to embrace the opportunity,” says Kashif Shan, CEO of Folium Biosciences. “We want to be welcome in the community and we felt that Medicine Hat was embracing of who we are, what we do, and wanted to make it work for us to be here.”
Medicine Hat by the Numbers
• Incorporated as a City: May 9, 1906
• Current Mayor: Ted Clugston
• Population (2018): 63,260
• Population change: 2011-2016: 5.4%
• Land Area: 112 sq. km
• Average Annual Days of Sunshine: 330
• Median Household Income: $72,806
Sources: Statistics Canada, Invest Medicine Hat, Alberta Municipal Affairs
Indeed, Medicine Hat and the surrounding region’s dominance as a greenhouse leader has been a welcome mat for economic development. Not only do cultivators benefit from the city’s status as one of North America’s only fully vertically integrated electrical utilities generating their own power and offering lower electricity transmission and distribution costs, but they equally benefit from the area’s large irrigation district, renowned for hemp, canola, and pulse production.
This has helped the city draw in nearly $300 million in new investments since 2018, two of which include hemp and cannabis production facilities for Aurora Sun Cannabis, as well as Folium Biosciences.
“[We’re] emerging as a global leader in cannabis and industrial hemp production and processing,” notes Sandra Blyth with the City of Medicine Hat’s Economic Development and Land department.
“These industries have created a groundswell of new opportunities for our region and with that comes investment confidence that is a drawing card for new investors. The time is now to invest in Southeast Alberta and our door is wide open.”