When recreational marijuana became legal in Michigan in 2018, Orion Construction began to review its policies and determined there was an opportunity to grow the company and Michigan’s economy through construction partnerships with cannabis retailers, all while maintaining alignment with its mission and core values.
“We are continually faced with issues surrounding zoning, but as many communities begin to see the benefits associated with allowing the cannabis industry in, such as increased tax base and revenues, as well as job creation, we expect to see communities ease those restrictions,” said Orion Construction President Brad Walsh. “Much of the cannabis industry is very specific about the products being used in their facilities, and at times, there are learning curves that go into the installation of specific products. Additionally, sourcing of products, such as air purification, or even specific safety features, may have longer lead times that we are used to in general construction.”
Orion Construction, a multi-service commercial construction company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has partnered with Detroit-based Gage Cannabis Co., a leading cannabis brand and operator, to build multiple dispensaries throughout Michigan. For its latest dispensary build, which opened in Kalamazoo in December 2021, Orion razed two existing buildings at the location – a vacant house and deteriorating gas station – and conducted soil remediation before spending four months on site preparation and construction.
“Sustainability is a main focus of the grow operations sector of the cannabis industry,” Walsh said. “These facilities rely heavily on electrical and lighting design, and the latest LED technology provides operators with the ability to lower energy needs. In addition, reclamation and reuse of water is often discussed among grow operations.”
By working with Gage, Orion gained valuable knowledge and insight into the cannabis industry, allowing for the opportunity to expand its business practices and become a premier building contractor for the cannabis industry in Michigan and beyond.
“The more we build in the industry, the more educated we become on the specific needs of each community in different states,” Walsh said. “As more states allow for the growth and sale of medical or recreational marijuana, we believe Orion is positioned to help the industry take root as commercial contractors with cannabis building experience are being sought.”
When Michigan’s recreational marijuana laws passed four years ago, many communities prohibited commercial recreational cannabis businesses to operate. Since then, more communities throughout Michigan are relaxing its zoning laws, creating exponential growth in the cannabis industry and leading to economic gains and increased revenue sharing from the state.
Surrounding states are now following Michigan’s lead and allowing medical and recreational marijuana businesses to grow, process, deliver and sell cannabis products, generating a greater demand in the cannabis construction sector.
“Orion Construction is a unique builder because we aim to align our knowledge and experience with the vision of our clients,” Walsh said. “When others have questioned whether they will work in the cannabis industry, we looked deeper and determined our core values of creating a positive impact are more closely aligned with the cannabis industry than we originally thought. After that deeper review of ourselves, we became open to delivering our ‘Orion Built’ quality to the cannabis industry.”