Medical marijuana facility eyed near LebanonBusiness executive cites Lebanon's proximity, local business leaders for wanting to build there
A Chester County financial services executive and his brother, a CPA, want to put their years of business experience to use in Pennsylvania's fledgling medical cannabis industry.
Sean Chipman said he wants to put a growing/processing operation in Lebanon Valley Business Park, in South Lebanon Township, both for business reasons and to offer a product that will help people stricken by ailments like opioid addiction, chronic pain and other health problems.
Chipman is the CEO of Pennsylvania Cannabis Health Co., which applied to be one of the 12 grower/processor businesses that will receive permits from the state.
Chipman expects to hear the word from the state on his company’s application by June 30.
The 39-year-old Chipman, a Downingtown native, is founder and managing member of Delaware-based Brownstone Financial Services Group LLC, which offers bookkeeping, accounting and consulting services to mid-market businesses across the eastern U.S.
His cannabis business is proposing to build a 20,000-square-foot facility for the medicinal marijuana operation and plans to eventually expand to 30 to 40 employees if the venture is approved.
Pennsylvania Cannabis Health already has received all needed South Lebanon Township approvals, and could start almost immediately if the state approves its application. That would meet the state’s aggressive requirement to be operational within six months from the date of approval, Chipman said.
Chipman and his brother, Christopher Chipman, who has an accounting and consulting firm and has recently been CFO of a NYSE-listed company, is to be CFO for the new business.
"Why would two conservative guys (he and his brother) get into the medicinal marijuana space? If you look at it on the surface, a lot of people are going to say, 'Oh, it's a money grab,' but we're not getting into it for those reasons," Sean Chipman emphasized.
"We have a chance to be a part of a new venture that will potentially make history in the medical field, putting Lebanon County on the national map."
He also emphasizes the experience of those working on the venture. He and his brother "have run successful businesses from the ground up, and we’ve partnered with people who have run very successful businesses in the cannabis industry."
Chipman said he had no knowledge of the fledgling industry before he was approached by an operator from the western U.S. about submitting a Pennsylvania application for a grower/processor.
Chipman, who calls himself "a conservative guy," looked into the health benefits of medical cannabis and found no negatives, he said.
And knowing of family members, business associates' families and others with health problems who might be helped by medical cannabis, he decided to jump in and apply.
The cost of operations in Lebanon County is less than in other areas, including the Harrisburg-Lancaster-York market, he said.
After looking at five or six other regions, he visited the suburban Lebanon location and was instantly impressed by Lebanon County's location, including its proximity to highways, and by Susan Eberly, president and CEO of the the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corp.
"I knew I had found the right place. It’s literally within three hours of any major city in Pennsylvania, and if you look at the major thoroughfares through there, it was the perfect spot strategically," he said Monday.
Chipman, who also has applied for a dispensary license in Bucks County, declines to name the firms that have partnered with Pennsylvania Cannabis Health.
One partner firm will provide the needed financing and offer Chipman 30 years of combined cannabis industry experience among its leadership. With its current New England operations, he added, the company "will ensure we are producing the finest quality therapeutic cannabis while being financially sustainable if awarded a license," he said.
The Lebanon Valley Business Park now is home to 17 businesses, including Schott Pharmaceutical Packaging, Regupol America LLC and Millet Plastics Inc. But it also has 120 acres sitting ready to be developed, Eberly said recently.
Chipman said Pennsylvania leaders have impressed him by implementing the state's new medical cannabis program "the right way," by limiting the number of applications that will be approved and keeping a tight rein on security.