NEEDLES — The city of Needles has come a long way since it allowed the first marijuana cultivation facility on June 14, 2016.
Rick Daniels, city manager, said that the first permit was issued to Ice Road House through a resolution from the city council.
Fast-forward three years and the total approved facilities number 36, which account for 84 conditional use permits and a total of 754,764 square feet of operations approved within the city.
Daniels said there are 12 facilities open, totaling 17 businesses and accounting for 125,427 square feet of operations within the city. He said that there are 10 facilities under construction, totaling 19 businesses and 138,038 square feet in the city.
Of the 12 facilities, Daniels said, three are owned by Needles residents: Paradise Wellness, San Clemente Cultivation LLC, and Governors Cut Cultivation.
With 12 current marijuana cultivation facilities in operation and more to come, the industry has affected Needles in a big way.
Daniels said that as of Feb. 4, 2019, there were 269 actively working employees in the facilities (57 Needles residents, 107 Arizona residents and two Nevada residents). By July 1, the numbers had jumped to 346 employees (113 Needles residents, 172 Arizona residents and 10 from Nevada).
The increase in the workforce has made some home developers look toward Needles and the surrounding area. Daniels said city officials are in talks with three different developers who are looking to build homes in the city.
The city has experienced revenue increase as well,
Daniels said that property value for the city has increased to $353 million, a 13.5% gain from 2017. Hotel revenue overall annual sales have increased from $6.9 million in 2017 to $8.3 million in 2018. Sales tax has increased from $411,609 in 2017 to $432,951 in 2018. Daniels said that the upgrade to the electrical system was funded by cannabis businesses, consisting of a $1.2 million inter-tie line and two $1.5 million substations.
The community itself has seen major positive impacts directly linked to the cannabis industry, Daniels said.
Daniels said that all hotels are at near 100% occupancy much of the time and have had to hire more staff members; all the local trades (electricians, plumbing engineers, contractors) are constantly busy and the median household income has increased from $30,000 to $39,5000 since the cannabis operations arrived.
As far as total revenue from the marijuana industry is concerned, Daniels said that the city has gone above its expected numbers. He said the total revenue is $1.18 million (unaudited); the city preliminarily had budgeted $581,237 for 2018-19. The cultivation revenue received is $670,026.02 (unaudited); the city had anticipated $431,237 in 2018-19. The revenue received from the dispensaries is $510,522.80 (unaudited), and the city budgeted $150,000.
Safety is still a priority for the city, Daniels said. He said the dispensaries are required to have an onsite security guard per the city ordinance.
“Having the camera looking at the cash register has been very successful in monitoring the facilities,” said Daniels. “All businesses are required to have monitored security and retain records for seven years. For the cultivators, we videotape the destruction of the by-product waste. In their standard operating procedures, we require a plan on identifying all safety, monitoring and employee procedures.”