Saxton Borough Council has learned that Green Leaf Medical LLC officials are gearing up for the company’s $30 million Phase II expansion plans that will more than double its current 135 employee numbers.

Company compliance manager Chuck Elder provided council with an activities update similar to one he gave this time last year. Elder said there has been a lot exciting activity taking place at the plant, once the home of the former Seton Leather Manufacturing Plant.

Elder said the plant currently employees about 135 individuals that he said varies from week-to-week with some employees moving on to other things and new ones taking their place. He gave a break down of the number of employees per section and some of the benefits employees receive from a very appreciative management.

Elder stated that the while the COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on plant operations, the company continued operating since it was considered an essential business. There was no drop in production during the height of the pandemic, in fact, Elder said the company seemed to “pick up its stride a little.”

While the company has always been known for its sanitation practices, Elder said it began utilizing UV-C disinfection lighting as part of its sanitation practices. Elder is also the company’s contact with state Department of Health (DOH) and described some of the procedures the company had to follow to meet DOH regulations.

As for community support, Elder said the company donated and distributed 350 bottles of hand sanitizer throughout the Saxton area and donated a 55-gallon drum of the product to the Tussey Mountain School District.

It also assisted the school district with eight UV-C disinfection devices to be used in district to help disinfect things without the use of chemicals agents all of the time. Elder said community organizations that benefit from yearly contributions the company makes are going to see generous increases since many of the contributions are based on sales the company makes.

In reviewing company production statistics, Elder said the company is cultivating over 50 different strains, doing 1,200 to 1,300 plants per week and has 25,000 plants in the building at one time. They deliver to over 90 different dispensaries per week, ship 1000-pounds of flower every month and are shipping 60,000-pounds of processed products per month.

Currently, Elder said the plant consists of 90,000-square feet. The expansion project is currently in a reconstruction phase and everything must be DOH approved.

The 178,000 expansion phase will consist of the addition of 24 more flower cultivating rooms, vegetation/prop rooms, research and development rooms, an additional processing lab, an incinerator room for better waste management and additional space for automation. When completed the facility, according to Elder, have the potential to be the largest facility of its type in all of Pennsylvania.

When Phase II is completed, Elder said the company plans to hire another 250 employees for its Saxton facility. Although slowed somewhat with the COVID-19 pandemic, the expansion project is expected to take 18 months to complete.

The company, continued Elder, recently opened a new plant in Richmond, VA and modeled it after its Saxton facility. Elder said Green Leaf Medical CEO Phillip Goldberg attributes Saxton’s success for having the ability to hire “bright, articulate and hard people.”

At present, Elder said everything is being produced at the Saxton facility and there is a very strong market for the product being produced there. He said the company receives multiple calls from different dispensaries requesting their products, but must be fair to ensure equal distribution.

Elder stated it is very vital the company keep track of every bit of product that leaves its facility. “It is a highly regulated product,” he said.

Mayor Alan Smith told council that Elder’s presentation was requested. Elder agreed stating there are no individuals permitted inside the plant unless they are directly involved in the product manufacturing process.

It was stated there has been a lot of misinformation on the aforementioned. Elder said any individuals, groups or vendors vital to keep the plant operating and performing its functions are permitted inside but are escorted at all times.

Even though there will be a flurry of activity at the plant, Elder said most of it will be “in house” and not really noticeable by the general public. As for the employees, Elder said the Saxton facility is operating at 100 percent capacity and a majority of them are local residents.

“Mr. Goldberg did what he promised he’d do when he committed to hiring local people for the jobs in Saxton,” Elder said. Smith said he recently had a telephone conversation with Goldberg who is still so appreciative of making a connection with the Saxton community for the expansion of his business.

Also attending the meeting was council members Larry Miller, Dennis Clawson, Tom Skipper, Adam Runk, John Hoffner, Phil Johnson and president Lester Meck that conducted the meeting. Also borough manager Jamie Foster, police chief Fred Chadwick, borough maintenance/water employee Don Herdman, Saxton Borough Municipal Authority officials Larry Williams and Adam Hoover and several guests.

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