Chicago-based Cresco Labs, a vertical multistate cannabis operator, recently launched its social equity and educational department, an initiative aimed at promoting inclusion, equality and community engagement. As more states legalize recreational and medical cannabis markets, the industry is on the cusp of becoming one of the top job creators in the country. This was a key reason behind the establishment of the program, according to Charlie Bachtell, CEO and co-founder of Cresco Labs.
“Our SEED initiative is designed to ensure that all members of our society have the skills, knowledge and opportunity to work in and own businesses in this industry,” said Bachtell in a public statement announcing the program. “From collaborating with universities to develop cannabis-focused curriculum to working with local agencies and community organizations to sponsor expungement events, the SEED initiative consists of impactful programs and actionable solutions-based approaches that we believe will help make the cannabis industry a highly inclusive force for job creation. ” Bachtell furthered add that the goal of the initiative is to provide 20,000 people with the opportunity to see employment in the industry by 2022.
The SEED program, which began to be developed in early 2018, centers around three main components: social equity, a community impact incubator program and workforce development/education. Examples of these features include Cresco Labs collaborating with community organizations and local agencies to help those formerly convicted of cannabis offenses get clearance to work within the cannabis industry; and conducting veteran’s hiring fairs to promote diversity among cannabis vendors;
Also, Cresco Labs’ business incubator program will focus on providing or supporting fundraising needed to build and ramp-up operations for licensed cultivators and/or dispensaries. The incubator’s long-term goal is to have participants own the majority share of their business.
Another driving force of the program is education. Cresco Labs is currently working with multiple community colleges, state universities and Ivy League universities to develop cannabis-focused courses of study as well as scholarships for people from communities most negatively impacted by the war on drugs. Internships will also be on the agenda. Cresco has a targeted internship program designed specifically for Central State University and Wilberforce University in Ohio. And, Cresco Labs launched a national summer 2019 internship program for 50 cannabis-focused candidates to work at the Company.
Also jumping on the social equity bandwagon is cannabis industry personnel agency NuGreen Staffing. Ruth Leslie, the firm’s recruiting director, said she has built an app that includes an algorithm that identifies job seekers from disproportionately impacted communities and gives them an advantage over other possibly more qualified job seekers. “Employers have to opt-in and agree to make the job listing exclusive,” explained Leslie. “If none of the initial applicants are a good fit, the job opens up to other candidates on the app. We are testing this in the Boston area but coming soon to Illinois and Michigan. We have several candidates in the pipeline who have kept their jobs or gotten promoted and are in the process of applying for the Courts to seal or expunge their records.” The app will launch on June 14.