One of the world’s leading medical and recreational cannabis providers plans to base its Florida headquarters in DeLand, a project that city officials tout as one of the largest commercial-sector investments in the city’s history.
California-based Cookies LLC announced Monday its intention to embark on the project that is expected to represent a $100 million capital investment and eventually bring 400 jobs to the community.
“On behalf of the city, I want to welcome Cookies to our community,” Mayor Bob Apgar said in a statement that accompanied the announcement. “Cookies’ total investment will represent one of the largest in the commercial sector in our city’s history and will help create hundreds of high-paying jobs for our area over time.
“Cookies is an outstanding organization, and I am looking forward to watching them become an integral part of DeLand,” Apgar said.
The company, which acquired one of Florida’s 22 medical marijuana treatment center licenses last year, will grow, cultivate and distribute its product from the DeLand location.
The operation will be located in the Northwest Industrial Business Park at the facility once owned by Brunswick Corporation. At 400,000 square feet of operating space, it was one of the largest vacant locations available for a corporation to locate.
Jobs in the DeLand operation will range from entry-level positions such as trimmers, janitorial and security staff to upper-level management positions in cultivation, processing, manufacturing, supply channel logistics, maintenance and security, said Jon-Lucas Del Fante, a company spokesman.
Salaries will start at higher-than-minimum-wage for entry level jobs, with management positions typically ranging from $100,000-$200,000 annually, Del Fante said.
“We do hope to hire many of the managerial and higher paying jobs out of the gate in next few months,” he said, with a target of opening between January and April of 2022.
Cookies has built a strong presence in the worldwide cannabis market
Founded in 2012, Cookies has an established presence in medical and recreational cannabis markets across the United States and internationally, with 43 retail locations located globally.
“Cookies will be redeveloping one of our largest un-utilized properties in the city’s Northwest Industrial Business Park,” said Nick Conte, the city’s economic development manager. “Additionally, the company will be utilizing 20 acres of undeveloped industrial property as part of its new construction plans, which includes the hiring of over 200+ employees as part of their first phase.”
Recruiting Cookies to DeLand was part of a broad community effort led by Conte and the city’s Community Development staff. Strategic partners included Tim Davis, SVN Alliance; O.J. Perryman, Dade Service Corp.; Heather Shubirg, Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation; Elizabeth Godwin, Duke Energy; Michael Sznapstajler and Robert Doan with Cobb Cole Attorneys-At-Law; Eric Anderson, Enterprise Florida and the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity.
“The collaborative effort by all of our partners helped this project to fruition,” Apgar said. “Our area is primed for commercial growth. The addition of Cookies to our community is proof of that and will likely be the catalyst for other companies locating to our city.”
Announcement of the company’s decision on the city’s Facebook page has yielded an unprecedented response, said Chris Graham, city spokesman. By midday Tuesday, the post had been seen by 200,000 people, generating 37 times the traffic of a typical post on the page, Graham said.
The post had been shared more than 2,000 times and produced more than 400 comments, the vast majority of which were the positive. Some comments questioned whether the City Commission might change its decision made several years ago to ban marijuana dispensaries in city limits.
“If Cookies were to decide they wanted to do something in DeLand, the commission would have to revisit that,” Graham said.
Reaction also was positive on Wednesday afternoon among residents shopping and dining in the downtown business district on Woodland Boulevard.
“It’s probably a good thing,” said Mark Wilkins, 55, of DeLand. “More jobs, more money, more income. In Colorado and Oregon, these places are super-popular and they are making people a lot of money.”
Seated at the sidewalk bar at Byte Bistro, DeLand resident Allyson Hawkins, 48, was encouraged by the project’s potential to create jobs.
“I think it’s going to be a really great thing for DeLand,” she said. “It will be a really positive thing for us.”
Marcia Kostibal, 70, of Deltona, who was shopping with her family, said that Volusia County needed to attract more companies with the potential to create jobs, such as the massive Amazon distribution center that opened last year in Deltona.
“It’s an industry; it’s jobs; let’s do it,” Kostibal said. “If we don’t, they’ll take the jobs to some other community. Let’s get it here. We need to grow income in Volusia County. Don’t let Orlando take it all.”