About 230 participants from 28 states virtually took part in the fourth annual Industrial Hemp Summit last week that was broadcast from the Institute for Advanced Learning in Research in Danville.
The Southeast Hemp Association and the Institute coordinated the two-day session focusing on helping the industry — still in its infancy and experiencing growing pains — cultivate itself around science, sound business principles and high standards, a news release stated.
“Building the U.S. Industrial Hemp Industry is like putting together a 5,000-piece puzzle blindfolded and with the pieces constantly shifting,” Marty Clemons, board chair of the Southeast Hemp Association, said. “It is imperative that we collaborate in a professional and transparent manner to create a sustainable industry."
During the Feb. 22-23 event centered on a theme of "One Industry United," the dozens of virtual attendees had the chance to participate in question and answer sessions with the event speakers and were able to "engage in potential virtual networking opportunities," the release said.
Previously — in life before COVID-19 — these often fast-paced sessions were held in-person at the Institute. The groups plan to return to that structure next year.
“The summit highlighted innovation in the industry, as well as the resources and infrastructure necessary to move the industry forward,” said Mark Gignac, executive director of the Institute. “We have always prided ourselves on the quality of the speakers and the panelists that we’ve engaged. This year, while virtual, was no exception.”
With reduced regulations, the plant is growing in populatiry with a multitude of uses for industries. The Institute explained in a news release hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including health and natural food products, supplements, skin products, clothing, bioplastics, insulation and biofuel.
“This year’s summit was a call to action for collaboration, leadership and development of standards to move the industry forward,” said Marty Clemons, one of the summit organizers and board chair of the Southeast Hemp Association.
A multitude of leaders and experts in the hemp industry served as panelists and speakers and spoke on topics like financing, state regulations, legal policy, genetics and testing to market opportunities and general industry analyses.
“The reemerging industry of industrial hemp provides diversification and growth opportunities, and the summit is one critical strategy to facilitate its growth through collaborative networking,” Gignac said.