Business Spotlight: NY HempLab

Last year, farmers and businesses prospered when congress passed The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “Farm Bill”) , rooting out hemp from the controlled substances list, giving all fifty states the freedom to approve it for industrial growth. Prior to this, growing hemp was restricted to academic research institutions. But now, thanks to congress, the newly-legalized plant, Cannabis sativa , has circulated New York State, expanding opportunities in the market for farmers and causing businesses to boom, especially when growing hemp for CBD.

NY HempLab , a local non-profit hemp industry incubator that began last year, whose goal is to innovate a thriving cannabis industry in NYS. However, it’s main focus currently is on education and community development, to make certain NYS is prepared for the industry. Zach Sarkis, founder and Executive Director of NY HempLab, has been an advocate for the hemp industry since 2007 and is currently working out a business model that is essential to help individuals and industry stakeholders to find their place in the field that relies on education of the industry, incubating businesses to find their niche and opening up the industry to create opportunities for businesses to get the support they need in NYS.

“We’re [NY HempLab] looking out to build an ecosystem of experts and resources that can be made available through a membership as well as public based, where we hope to further refine the services we can offer from office hours to like webinars, seminars and events and moving into what we think is the opportunity for an incubator that's focused around cannabis,” Sarkis said.

Having spent years in the recreational and medical markets mostly as a laborer, Sarkis noticed the potential of hemp could have as a booming crop for New York farmers and how it could present a real opportunity for rural economic development that was hardly being acknowledged at the time of his discovery.

“You couldn't touch hemp with a stick,” Sarkis said. “Binghamton had millions of dollars pouring into other parts of the state. So like, this industry is booming and taking off, but no one's talking about it in the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region and it was driving me nuts.” Frustrated over the lack of conversation causin