JEROME — Hempitecture, a Ketchum-based manufacturer of sustainable building materials, will build a plant in the Magic Valley, cofounder and CEO Matthew Mead announced Thursday.
The company turns industrial hemp into fiber batting that could potentially replace fiberglass insulation and other toxic building materials. Its products — HempWool and Hempcrete — are sustainably sourced from farmers who legally grow hemp.
Idaho farmers have been advocating for their ability to grow the plant — which contains less than 0.3% of THC, the compound that gives its cannabis cousin marijuana its high — since the 2018 federal farm bill legalized it, Mead told members of Business Plus on Thursday at the group’s quarterly meeting at the Mountain View Barn.
Just last month, Idaho became the last state in the U.S. to legalize its production and transportation.
Idaho growers have a long way to catch up to other states’ hemp production levels. But in the long run, Mead is confident the product will become a staple in the Magic Valley. Montana is the main source of Hempitecture’s product, he said.
Hemp is naturally fire- and pest-resistant, he said.
The hemp processing and manufacturing plant would be good for the valley, said Rebecca Wildman, executive director of Business Plus, a local organization of business leaders that partially funds Southern Idaho Economic Development.
SIED has been working with the company for six months to bring the eco-friendly manufacturing plant to the Magic Valley, Wildman said.
The company’s building materials are “ag-tech innovative products good for the environment and good for the economy,” she said.
Hempitecture has looked at several locations in the Magic Valley, including sites in Jerome and Gooding counties, but, so far, Jerome seems to be the most feasible, said Larry Hall, executive director of Jerome 20/20 Inc.
“No matter which community they choose, it will be a win for the Magic Valley”, Connie Stopher, executive director of SIED, said in an email. “Both Gooding and Jerome Counties have offered incentives to Hempitecture.”
Idaho now allows hemp. It was the last state in the union to do so.