FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Matt Bevin today announced Fibonacci LLC will locate a HempWood manufacturing operation in Calloway County with a more than $5.8 million investment expected to create 25 full-time jobs.
“The commonwealth’s burgeoning hemp industry is quickly gaining national attention, and this exciting project will significantly intensify that spotlight,” Gov. Bevin said. “This hardwood alternative opens up new possibilities within the construction and woodworking industries and emphasizes the capabilities hemp has across numerous sectors. We are grateful to Greg Wilson and Fibonacci LLC for locating the United States’ first HempWood operation in Kentucky, and we look forward to the powerful impact the company will have on the region’s economy and the overall industry.”
Fibonacci will lease an 11,230-square-foot facility in Murray for its first manufacturing location with plans to establish a world-class, automated HempWood operation. The company located in Murray after its leaders established a relationship with Murray State University, and 800 tons of hemp stalks have already been contracted through growers in west Kentucky. The operation is expected to begin production this summer.
“We look forward to being a productive member of Kentucky’s agricultural and manufacturing communities, and the enormous opportunities of HempWood as a renewable alternative to Oak,” said Greg Wilson, owner of Fibonacci. “Dr. (Tony) Brannon from Murray State University planted the seeds and Phill McCallon, Kentucky employee No. 1, demonstrates Kentucky’s expertise in agriculture and manufacturing.”
Wilson formed Fibonacci in March 2018 following 13 years of experience, research and development in the wood products industry. Wilson co-owns SmartOak – www.smartoak.com.au – which creates engineered wood products using logs that would otherwise be converted to wood chips. Fibonacci uses technology popularized by China’s strand-woven bamboo industry, in addition to SmartOak tech, which originated in Australia. Dewevai Buchanan, the company’s commercial director, is an internationally recognized product expert with 25 years of experience in hardwood and décor manufacturing industries.
HempWood – with its patented process and product made from hemp fibers and soy-based adhesives – has been in development for the past decade and is viewed to have a number of advantages over traditional oak hardwood. In addition to a higher availability of hemp – hemp stalks grow in six months, compared to oak trees, which take decades – Wilson said processed hemp can reach 20 percent higher density than oak, which provides sustainability and hardness. HempWood can be used in products ranging from flooring and furniture to woodworking projects and culinary serving boards.
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles said this is another step toward the diversification of the state’s burgeoning hemp industry.
“When I became commissioner of Agriculture, I said I wanted to make Kentucky the epicenter of the hemp industry in the United States,” Quarles said. “The fact that Greg Wilson and Fibonacci LLC are choosing Kentucky to locate the first HempWood operation in the United States is a testament to the work we’ve done to strategically position Kentucky’s hemp industry. I thank Fibonacci LLC and look forward to following their story.”
“It has been exciting to work with Greg Wilson and his team over the past year to bring this hemp-related manufacturing business to Murray and the Murray State service region,” said Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of Murray State’s Hutson School of Agriculture. “His sustainable work with hemp fiber further helps us build out the growing and processing platform, making Kentucky the epicenter of agricultural hemp. The Center for Agricultural Hemp at Murray State University is pleased to provide continuing assistance with this opportunity.”
Rep. Larry Elkins, of Murray, thanked the company for its commitment and said the hemp industry continues to benefit Kentucky’s economy in multiple markets.
“Kentucky’s emerging industrial hemp industry is not only creating more opportunity for our farmers, but also providing manufacturing jobs in other areas, like woodworking,” Rep. Elkins said. “I would like to welcome Fibonacci to Murray and thank them for their investment in our community, which will put 25 people to work and provide more economic opportunity for our families.”
Murray Mayor Bob Rogers expressed gratitude for the job creation and noted the company’s potential in an untapped industry.
“We are certainly pleased to see these new jobs come to Calloway County,” Mayor Rogers said. “Whatever is good for Calloway County is good for Murray and the region as a whole. We wish Fibonacci the very best as they create an entirely new industry that has bright prospects for the future.”
Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenneth Imes pointed to the impact of the company’s decision to buy products locally.
“As judge-executive, I am always glad to see new jobs in our community but this particular project is especially exciting,” Judge-Executive Imes said. “Not only will Fibonacci create 25 new jobs and invest almost $6 million, but they will also buy from our local farmers. The owner of the company, Greg Wilson, has been very successful in the past and was a pioneer in bamboo flooring. His knowledge and contacts will be crucial in making this company a huge success.”
Mark Manning, president of the Murray-Calloway Economic Development Corp., said the more time he spends around Fibonacci, the more he believes in the company’s potential.
“I have gotten to know this company quite well over the last few months and am impressed with their knowledge of the industry, as well as their technology,” Manning said. “I am proud that they chose to do this project in Calloway County and look forward to their success.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in February preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $300,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
In addition, Fibonacci can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.
A detailed community profile for C.alloway County can be viewed here.