GRAND RAPIDS — Dr. Paul King is returning to his hometown of Grand Rapids to open the state’s first Black-owned cannabis safety compliance facility.
King, an Atlanta, Ga.-based neurosurgeon who grew up in Grand Rapids, plans to open Hummingbird Laboratories LLC on Division Avenue roughly 1 mile south of downtown and near his childhood home.
King said he promised his late wife that he would pursue opening a cannabis testing facility after she found cannabis brought her relief from side effects brought on by cancer.
With cannabis still illegal in Georgia, King’s home state was an opportunity to generate economic development by launching the venture, which will be located at 1001 S. Division Ave.
“It’s a big thing for me because I see that area has gone down. For us to provide jobs and provide a building that looks good and that is functional and not dilapidated — that might draw more people and other businesses to the area,” King told MiBiz. “Grand Rapids is also such a think tank and has so many scientists available: Why not go to some place where you have so many scientists in the area?”
Named after the frequent flurries of hummingbirds King sees in his backyard in Atlanta, Hummingbird Labs also will be the first Black-owned cannabis safety compliance facility to open in the state, according to company officials. This not only provides an opportunity for the business to give back to the community, but it also helps dispensaries and suppliers doing business with the lab to achieve social equity goals, said Hummingbird Labs co-founder and Partner Glen Clanton.
Grand Rapids, for example, has voluntary social equity programs for both medical and recreational cannabis operators that have helped companies gain an advantage while seeking local licenses.
“The social equity program in Michigan involves using minority suppliers,” Clanton said. “Since all cannabis has to be tested, growers and processors can get social equity credit by using our lab.”
Hummingbird Labs acquired the Division Avenue building for $815,000 on June 1, according to property records. The building was purchased from Great Lakes EMS Academy Inc., which will be moving out of the building on Sept. 30, King said. The cannabis testing facility will be on the second floor, and the owners plan to rent out the rest of the space, King added.
The “sophisticated buildout” of the second floor will cost about $1 million and will include new HVAC systems, special flooring and specialized testing equipment, which will cost another $1.5 million to $2.5 million, King said. Hummingbird Labs is raising money on crowdfunding platform Mainvest to help fund the redevelopment and purchasing lab equipment.
Hummingbird Labs is working with Pontiac-based TDG Architects on renovations. The goal is to start construction in September and open the lab in August 2023, King said. Equipment has to be calibrated and validated by the state, which can take three to six months, King added.
King and his partners have been working from Georgia to make connections with Michigan growers and processors, which has been difficult, King said.
“That’s been an ongoing challenge, but (me and Glen) were both in Detroit for CannaCon, so we were meeting growers there and we are trying to get our name out there as much as possible,” King said. “It’s an ongoing task making growers and processors aware of business and making our presence known.”