NEW CASTLE, Pa. — A struggling city in eastern Pennsylvania was chosen to be the home of one of the state’s first 12 marijuana growing/processing plants, due in part to its status as a distressed city.

New Castle’s many economic challenges weighed in the community’s favor when the Pennsylvania Department of Health made its final decisions on Tuesday, said Keith Morgan of Holistic Farms, the company that will operate the facility.

“We selected New Castle for a reason,” Morgan said about the proposal he submitted to the state. “It is an Act 47 city. They may not be proud of that designation, but New Castle is in economic need. In this instance, that worked for us, it worked for the city.” 

Morgan said applications were rated depending on various factors, including what economic impact such a facility would have on the host community. He said the state has promised to release the scores of the 12 successful applicants, which ranged from 700 to 768 points.

New Castle ranked seven out of the 12, with 741.68 points, Morgan said.

Anthony Mastrangelo, New Castle Mayor, said the decision will be beneficial to the community.

“It’s fantastic that we were selected,” Mastrangelo said. “This time our financially distressed condition worked for us.”

Morgan said Wednesday that his New Castle facility, which does not include a dispensary, will be up and running within six months of June 20, the day the permit was issued.

An estimated 100 to 150 employees will be hired over a three- to five-year period, according to Morgan.

“We’ll grow as the market grows,” he said.

Linda Nitch, director of economic business development of the Lawrence County Regional Chamber of Commerce, was thrilled to learn New Castle had been selected as a grower/processor site.

“I hope this is just the

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