PALESTINE, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Two businessmen from Robinson, Illinois are in the works to bring a cannabis dispensary to the Village of Palestine in hopes of giving back to a community they say could benefit from the economic impact.

“The reason we’re doing it is to save this community,” Eric Erickson, Co-Owner of Leaf’s Release. “They need something to boost their economy and get them going and we feel like this is something that’s going to do that.”

About three years ago, The Village of Palestine’s Mayor Rob Byrley said they struck down the idea of a dispensary. This summer, that changed, when the mayor broke a tie vote on the approval of allowing a dispensary in the community.

“It’s quite a controversial subject, I got to admit I was on each side of the fence,” Byrley said.

The mayor said he was back and forth on the issue, but ultimately went for what he said the majority wanted. He said several residents and business owners reached out to him and he said for every one that was against the idea, he heard from ten that were for it.

“We got to remember we work for the people,” Byrley said.

Byrley’s hope is to help the community. “Palestine, like a lot of small villages, is struggling to survive. We’re just trying to take a step in the right direction.”

And he believes the revenue from the dispensary could do just that. “On the recreational, I believe we get 3%. Then on the medical, they don’t have to give anything, but they’ve agreed to give 1%,” Byrley said.

As for the progress, Erickson said the lot is purchase and demolition complete. The property is located on the corner of Porter and N. Washington (Route 33) between Casey’s General Store and Dollar General.

But the mayor said there are several things that still have to fall into place before this is a done deal. “We’re just at the waiting game. You know see if they get their license, then we will proceed with our license.”

“Hopefully we can secure the license and bring something to Palestine that it desperately needs,” Erickson said.

The next step?

Erickson said they’ll continue working to turn their plans into a reality.

“We’re sort of waiting on builders now that are backed up from the tornado that hit Crawford County. A lot of the builders are tied up and we want to use local if we can.”

Leaders agree that the dispensary in Palestine is still in the early stages of a long process. But it’s something they are optimistic about.

The exact timeline is still to be determined as they await state licenses, which they’ll learn more on in January.

What else can be expected?

As for the red building left standing on the property, Erickson said the plan is to bring a quick service Mexican restaurant known as Cilantro’s. He said the food establishment will be another source of economic gain for Palestine.