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Customers wait outside the Sunnyside cannabis dispensary in South Beloit, Ill., on Tuesday afternoon. The store has drawn 5,000 to 7,000 customer visits per week since it opened in July.

SOUTH BELOIT, Ill.

South Beloit’s Sunnyside cannabis dispensary has had a successful first year, and city officials say they hope the development could lead to future economic growth in the area.

The 7,200-square-foot dispensary, currently the largest marijuana-selling facility in Illinois, is located just off Interstate 90/39 on the Wisconsin/Illinois state line.

Jason Erkes, communication officer for Cresco Labs, which operates Sunnyside, said the South Beloit location has “outperformed” projected demand since it opened last summer. The store draws 5,000 to 7,000 customers weekly.

“We’ve been welcomed with open arms,” Erkes said. “We view every city that we are in as being a partnership, and we are thankful for every opportunity. South Beloit was definitely forward-thinking in its approach.”

Erkes said COVID-19 has hampered the company’s educational outreach efforts, but he said cannabis products at Sunnyside have helped people manage conditions such as anxiety and depression during a stressful year.

“We are normalizing the cannabis-buying process and making it as comfortable as going to a GNC, Whole Foods or Starbucks,” he said. “We’re making sure we are communicating to people the benefits of cannabis, along with communicating the dosing regulations and extensive testing that goes into our products.”

South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl said Sunnyside has been an outstanding addition to the city’s economic base. He said the police department has reported no enforcement issues or complaints to the city council.

“We really feel that Sunnyside has been a bright spot for us,” Rehl said. “Every step of the way, their team has been cooperative and open. They’ve responded to the strong demand with additional parking. We really are optimistic that this will bring more economic growth to the area.”

Rehl said the city expects to receive tax revenue information from the state of Illinois sometime in January. The city has estimated it will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars—if not $1 million—in new tax revenue.

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