A U.S. company says it will invest $5.8 million in a factory in Kentucky to produce HempWood, an “eco-friendly timber” that uses hemp fiber to create a wood-like material.
The company, Fibonacci LLC, said it has secured a lease on an 11,000 sq. ft. facility in western Kentucky and plans to begin production this summer. Fibonacci owner Greg Wilson said he has contracted for delivery of more than 800 tons of hemp stalks from Kentucky growers to get operations up and running.
The processing is based on an algorithm that mimics the growth cycle and attributes of an oak tree, according to Wilson, and determines hardness, density and stability.
Advantages of hemp over wood include a much quicker growing time and greater density in the material which can be used for a wide range of applications which usually are based on wood, such as furniture and flooring.
HempWood products will be in the form of blocks, pre-cut boards, flooring, cutting boards and skateboards at prices cheaper than those for oak products, the company said.
Fibonacci received $300,000 in tax incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.
Depending on the firm’s performance, Fibonacci could keep some of its investment by meeting job and investment goals. The company expects to employ 25 people, and will benefit from free recruitment and job placement services from the Kentucky Skills Network.
“This hardwood alternative opens up new possibilities within the construction and woodworking industries and emphasizes the capabilities hemp has across numerous sectors,” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said of the startup.