Graduate's cannabis business becoming integral part of Grand Rapids neighborhood

August 30, 2022 (Volume 46, Number 1)
Article by Brian Vernellis

Casey Kornoelje, ’08, sees his small business as an integral part of Grand Rapids’ West Wealthy neighborhood and business corridor, where industrial, commercial and residential zones are intertwined. 

Before opening in the area, Koronelje visited with his future residential neighbors to get their thoughts on his business becoming a part of the neighborhood.

With their approval, Kornoelje opened Pharmhouse Wellness in 2020, the only locally owned cannabis shop in Grand Rapids. 

“I think we’ve had a positive impact on the neighborhood,” said Kornoelje. “We’ve engaged in conversations with neighbors, business and business associations. 

“From day one, we were saying we are a small business like you guys. I really try to treat others like I want to be treated. We’ve created some really good relationships with the West Wealthy business corridor.” 

Pharmhouse has several initiatives to invigorate the neighborhood. Its Westpharm Reinvestment Fund funnels the savings from its licensing and assessment fees to help minority-owned businesses and nonprofits. Another Pharmhouse initiative, the West Wealthy Beautification Project, is commissioning artwork for the neighborhood.  

Pharmhouse’s influence has garnered attention from state agencies, too. Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency awarded the business its gold level for its equity work, becoming the first company in the state to receive the top honor. 

“We want to show the neighborhood and the state that cannabis industries aren’t so bad,” Kornoelje said. “To me, it’s important to be involved in social equity. That’s where my heart is.”  

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This article was last edited on August 29, 2022 at 4:28 p.m.

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