The ceremony included speeches by company executives, politicians and a Penn State Hershey Medical Center researcher.
PA Options has an agreement with the hospital’s pharmacology department to research medical marijuana, its effects on patients, and potential uses for new medicines.
Company executives extolled not only the medical and research aspects of the new facility, but also its links to Perry County commerce.
“We’re looking forward to working with your organizations to bring economic development to this community,” said Sonya Weigle, company chief strategy officer, and president of SWC Management Consulting.
Community engagement and service are an integral part of PA Options’ corporate culture, she said. Executives are looking forward to continued investment in the local community to “bring a tide that lifts all ships,” she said.
PA Options is expected to create more than 80 jobs at the facility in the Perry Innovation Park on Business Campus Way. It’s the first industrial development in the park, which has a checkered 20-year history of empty lots. The more than 90,000-square-foot facility will include grow rooms and production space for cannabis products. There also is room for expansion, which could mean even more jobs.
The partnership with researchers at the Hershey hospital is critical. “This industry needs this research,” Weigle said.
Researchers will work with patients to determine which types and forms of cannabis provide pain relief and other conditions for best results, said Dr. Kent Vrana, chairman of the pharmacology department at Penn State Hershey, and a notable researcher.
“I’m delighted to be working with a company that believes in providing scientific alternative medicine,” Vrana said at the groundbreaking.
Thomas Trite, PA Options’ CEO and founder, said medical results and the patient will always be the focus of the company.
“We feel there’s a great need for proper products, proper processing and proper delivery to the patient,” he said.
Trite, a pharmacist who started his former company Prescription RX in Newport, believes the research partnership is the key to helping patients. The facility in Penn Twp. will invest in Perry County communities while it does that, he said.
“We’ll be driving the industry and setting a model for Pennsylvania,” Trite said.
State Sen. John DiSanto, who represents Perry and northern Dauphin counties, said the new facility would complement other nearby health businesses and will continue to support the true medical marijuana industry. He doesn’t want the state to lose focus on that, saying Pennsylvania is on the forefront of medical cannabis research.
Perry County is often forgotten, he said, so it’s good that economic development in medical research is happening here.
“I enjoy coming to these events where business is growing and jobs are being created,” DiSanto said.
Following the speeches, PA Options executives, local politicians and economic development officials, broke ground on the site with ceremonial shovels. Actual site work and construction was to begin Oct. 21, township officials said.