- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2020

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - The state is funneling more economic development dollars to the hemp industry, as another business plans to expand its operations in southern New Mexico.

The Economic Development Department said Friday it has committed $600,000 in local economic development funding to Natural ReLeaf. That will be matched by more than $5 million in private investment.

The company began growing hemp last year and is ready to expand its manufacturing capacity and add more greenhouses that would be capable of growing the crop year-round. It’s initial crop yielded 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms) .

The company’s manufacturing facility and primary dispensary in Las Cruces is scheduled to open in the coming weeks. It also sells products through other distributors in and out of the state.

With the expansion, state officials said Natural ReLeaf is expected to create 56 jobs over the next two to three years.

The company also has received assistance from the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance. Officials there say they’ve seen a surge in activity in the industrial hemp industry.

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