Bridge City Collective is a cannabis company that is not solely driven for profit, unlike many other Multi-State Operators (MSOs).
David Alport founded Bridge City Collective in 2010. Since 2017 he has co-founded new Bridge City Collective efforts in other states such as New Jersey with Jason Kabbes. They explained regarding the name “collective” or “wellness centers” were the understood name for a dispensary when California legalized medical cannabis. The name is also a nod to their collective value of ideas and efforts.
“Bridge City” is a nickname for Portland. Kabbes said the name is multi-faceted and shows they like forming bridges in the cities they venture into and their collective mindset.
Their cannabis company received one of the first retail dispensary licenses issued in Portland in 2014. Bridge City Collective now operates in adult-use and medical cannabis markets in all aspects of the seed-to-sale process.
A Socially Minded Cannabis Company
Alport said they sought to stay true to patients and mission and customers and mission and what we represent as individuals and try to carry them into new markets.
“We’re really community-oriented,” Alport said. “We really care about the communities we engage in. align with non-profits, place to make an impact, as a collective.”
For example, they are also active in dealing with the issue of prisoner reentry programs and plan to incorporate this into their efforts in New Jersey. In St. Louis, MO, where they hold a cultivating and processing license Bridge City Collective works with a non-profit to hold a job fair to hire people within the community.
Kabbes said that the “industry is dominated by guys that look like Dave and I. We do not shy away from that fact.”
They also are forming an incubator that arranges mentor-mentee relationships for cannabis entrepreneurs to address that.
In addition to Oregon, they operate in Ohio Massachusetts, and Missouri. the cannabis company has pending license applications in Illinois and New Jersey.
Eyeing New Jersey
“I consider New Jersey a second home,” Kabbes said, explaining that he has spent a lot of time in West Orange, Plainfield, and Watchung. “I got a lot of friends there.”
They started looking at opening in the state in 2017 when Murphy looked like he would be the clear winner of the Governorship.
Since then they partnered with a leader of the African American Chamber of Commerce in New Jersey.
Regarding their efforts to apply for a license in New Jersey, “It’s been a lot of work,” Kabbes said.
The cannabis company first applied in 2018 for one of the six licenses given out. They said it was extremely complicated. Bridge City Collective scored well but not well enough to be one of the top six. They tried again last summer. Like so many other companies, they have been waiting to hear the results.
“It takes a lot of patience,” Kabbes said. “Any state government you’re dealing with, you have to be patient.”
Their cannabis company applied for a dispensary in Phillipsburg, New Brunswick, and the city of Burlington. Thus they would like to apply in the three geographic regions to apply for three simultaneously.
He acknowledged that the state bureaucrats with no experience running a cannabis company were going to have issues.
“We are hopeful adult-use will roll out expeditiously,” Kabbes said. “There are always growing pains when a state comes online.”
Operating in Missouri
They have won licenses in Missouri for a vertical operation. They are in the process of building their dispensary now in Kansas City, MO. Missouri’s first cannabis sales began a few weeks ago.
“The progress is very early,” Alport said, adding no flower is for sale yet in Kansas City. “We’re not missing out on much.”
Along with their dispensary in Kansas City, they have a growing and processing facility in St. Louis operation.
Alport said that the Missouri medical cannabis bill had in-state ownership and control laws to keep MSOs out and favored Missouri businesses and investors. There were signs of favoritism but no evidence.
“You see that in every state. It’s not just a New Jersey or Missouri thing,” Alport said.
To win a license, they partnered with Missouri people and found local investors who helped win the competition.
Kabbes said it is very competitive to get a license for a cannabis company. He compared it to applying for a grant or college where a lengthy application process is involved.
“We’ve been blessed with those scored applications,” Kabbes said.
Bridge City Collective likes opening stores in a new state. Their experience allows them to produce high quality-flower, enhancing their ability to grab market share before any other company does.
“We’re good at growing weed,” Kabbes said.
Since their strategy is to apply in supply-limited states, they have not tried to open in Oklahoma since supply is abundant in their medical market.
“There’s good and bad,” Kabbes said regarding the growth of cannabis companies and the industry. “It’s good to see the industry professionalizing and stepping into the light.”
“But any industry that experiences rapid growth has good and bad parts. I do hope as the industry grows, there are routes to ownership in the minority community.”