There’s a great deal of business literature written about how organizations are defined by the person at the top. If what the sages say is true, then Bridge City Collective, a Portland-based cannabis company with big ambitions, it should be hard to find a more mission-driven, community-focused cannabis company on planet Earth.
As explained by CEO David Alport, Bridge City Collective (BCC) seeks to do more than just sell great cannabis to medical patients. With a dispensary license for Kansas City, and manufacturing and cultivation licenses near St. Louis, BCC wants to build up the communities it works in as well.
“We’re a group of likeminded people who are really setting out to provide high quality craft cannabis and products to the market and do it in a way that’s intentional,” says Alport. “We engage in places where we’re doing business with the communities we are involved in, and creating an equitable wide net of partnerships.”
Today, BCC has two dispensaries operating in Portland, while Alport works to stand up the new Missouri operations. But it is also part of a dispensary application team in Illinois and is preparing to open a dispensary in Ohio.
In Illinois, which is stuck in license purgatory for too many reasons to list here, Bridge City Collective earned a reputation among other applicants as committed to social equity. And in Missouri, Alport has steered BCC in the same direction.
For instance, BCC located its cultivation facility in Pagedale, a long suffering small community, and then partnered with neighborhood improvement non-profit Beyond Housing.
“We have been working alongside them to essentially have a partnership that is mutually beneficial where we volunteer time, and then they are a resource for us, like putting on a job fair for folks who might be looking for jobs in that community. These are people working in our facility. We’re not just putting in a facility in Pagedale and then hiring from somewhere else. We’re hiring from within the community so the economic benefit stays within the community,” says Alport.
Local Missouri partner, Brian Levine, who led up the company’s real estate acquisition in the state, says community improvement was part of the concept from the beginning.
“I think we really thought holistically about the locations we were looking for, we really did go into it thinking, are these locations ideal for patients and that these production facilities should bring jobs and enterprise into areas that need it,” said Levine, who met Alport when he lived in Portland twenty years ago.
Despite the community-focused mission, acquiring the properties was not easy. Industrial properties were a very hot commodity in the summer of 2019, says Levine.
“You would show up for a tour of a 30,000 square foot vacant warehouse, and there would be three other tours behind you; all cannabis companies hoping to lease these properties,” says Levine. “You would see a lot of similar people out canvassing for similar properties because they were the right fit.”
Alport and Levine expect their community focus will shine through to customers.
“We can be in a place that’s better than where we started. We need to be mindful of how we engage with the communities we’re involved with. That’s our ethos, that we’re mindful and conscious of what we’re involved with,” said Alport. “We’re not trying to be a commoditized cannabis player. We’re thinking about the quality no matter where. Oregon will be the same as Ohio, Missouri, or Illinois. If the quality is not there for us, we’ll do something else with it.”
Bridge City Collective expects to open a. Kansas City dispensary by the end of the year. Thereafter, the company expects its cultivation and manufacturing site to start distributing product in early 2021.