An existing marijuana growing facility was given the go-ahead Tuesday night by county board members to expand its operations.

Green Thumb Industries (GTI), will add an $8 million, 66,000-square-foot building at the current site, 8221 51st Street West, doubling the size of the facility. The business will hire an additional 70 employees.

According to the QC Times, there were differing opinions among board members. Four board members opposed the expansion while several other board members cited personal experiences in support of the agreement.

Board member and local chiropractor, Rod Simmer said he often treats patients in chronic pain, according to the QC Times article.

"This is highly regulated," Simmer said. "I find that my patients who do use it are doing a lot better in general. It adds support for hard (narcotic) users to get off the hard narcotics." 

In exchange for expanding its operations, the county will reimburse GTI 90 percent of the county's portion of property taxes, and the Rockridge School District will abate 21 percent of the district's property taxes.

The city of Rock Island will pay GTI an incentive of $75,000 after a certificate of occupancy has been granted.

The agreement states the total amount of property taxes abated will be for a period of five years or a maximum value of $700,000, whichever comes first.

Reimbursement of any property taxes will be dependent on whether GTI can meet its employment numbers. If GTI does not meet its projected employment numbers, abatement of property taxes will be reduced by a percentage equal to the percentage of the total number of employees not hired.

The agreement states construction should be completed sometime early in 2019.

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