Most U.S. farmers are growing hemp for cannabidiol, but hemp-based hardwood and bioplastics businesses have sprouted up this fall, expanding the newly legal crop's potential.
Hemp has been promoted as a plant material that can be made into 50,000 different products, but uses other than extracting CBD -- a compound found in marijuana that doesn't get you high -- have been slow to grow.
"We're in the forefront of the hemp fiber industry, and I don't know how many people are buying it besides, us," Crye said. "There appears to be lots of room for new entrants in the market."
Industrial hemp stalks, about 6 feet high, are harvested and cold-pressed with resins to make a grain-patterned wood product, Crye said.
The stalky fiber plant has a different shape than the bushy hemp plants grown by many U.S. farmers for CBD. All hemp plants are members of the cannabis family, relatives of their THC-laden cousin marijuana.
Fibonacci employs eight people and plans to hire two more per month, ultimately hoping to employ 50 workers to run two shifts, owners said.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority granted $300,000 in employment-based tax incentives for the $5.6 million factory.
Crye said the idea is to use tall fiber hemp grown within 100 miles. The firm has contracted with local farmers in Western Kentucky for 1,300 acres.