By David Blanchette
Springfield resident and cannabis entrepreneur Chris Stone is opening Share, a new cannabis dispensary on South Sixth Street Frontage Road just north of the I-55 interchange in Southern View. The building was most recently occupied by Magnolia Lane Home Décor and More, which relocated to The Yard Shopping Center on Wabash Avenue at the end of last year.
The property owners from whom Share leases the building plan to develop an adjacent 25,000 square foot cultivation center, allowing the sale of locally-produced cannabis products in the Share dispensary and throughout the state.
Stone said he had to be very savvy about where he chose to locate his new cannabis dispensary. Stone purchased a license from a group that had won one in the latest state dispensary lottery, and determined that one of the main entry points to the Springfield area, the Sixth Street corridor, would be an ideal dispensary location. That meant interacting with the Village of Southern View and working with village officials to get some laws changed.
Education over the past 10 years has reduced the stigma of cannabis, and I think that is why more communities are willing to work with cannabis companies, Stone said. Plus, you have substantial tax revenues for the municipalities. The state has seen that this is an actual, viable industry that they are reaping some significant revenues from in property taxes, sales taxes and payroll taxes.
The Village of Southern View is pleased to welcome Share to the community, and Village Attorney Don Craven agreed that working with an experienced entrepreneur like Stone made the whole experience easier.
The process of making necessary changes to village code went very smoothly, and the dispensary representatives were very easy to work with, Craven said. This was the first experience we had with anybody in the cannabis industry. I think if you compare the way that Southern View approached it with the way the city of Springfield approached it, Southern View was very willing to accommodate reasonable requests.
Craven said the Share dispensary fits very well with anticipated improvements that the Illinois Department of Transportation plans along Sixth Street from I-55 to Stevenson Drive. That fits in well with Shares philosophy of being a good neighbor through local ownership.
The dispensary operation and the planned cultivation center are locally owned by investors, including me, Stone said. The benefit to the local community is full-time, good paying jobs, plus if you are making and selling cannabis here it will be cheaper for people here to buy it.
The Springfield area is interesting, its a relatively big city but it feels like a small town, Stone said. People are very parochial here so when you say locally-owned, it really does resonate here a lot more than in some other places.