About 300 officials from various backgrounds attended the 2017 Economic Impact Conference at Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack.
Education, Infrastructure, and of course the future were the topics. You might think the natural gas industry is slowing down, but these officials would beg to differ, “One cracker can add as many as 20-30,000 jobs in the Valley and with the Appalachian Storage and Trading Hub, potential, we’re looking at the potential to have an additional 100,000 jobs for the tri-state region,” said President and CEO of Eagle Manufacturing, Joe Eddy.
Eddy says the US is now the world leader in natural gas production, surpassing nations like Russia and Iran and for him the future looks bright, “West Virginia has had tough times, but a lot of people forget the fact that we started the world chemical here in West Virginia in the Kanawha County and Clendenin area in the Kanawha area. We have a lot of international areas that are taking advantage of the natural resources that we have,” Eddy said.
We’ve heard about this proposed ethane Cracker for about two years and for many it might seem like a far-fetched idea or one that won’t promise a great impact on our area, “I think with what’s happening with oil and gas and the possibility of an ethane cracker, I think the outlook is pretty good,” said Vice President of Business Development with Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, Mike Jacoby.
With all of the optimism, there are some challenges our area faces when it comes to attracting and sustaining large-scale projects like the potential plant in Belmont County, “I think with what’s happening with oil and gas and the possibility of an ethane cracker, I think the outlook is pretty good, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of collaborations that’s going to make that happen, but that’s part of what’s happening today,” Jacoby added.
We also asked about our infrastructure and if it is conducive to bringing these large-scale projects to our area and these officials say yes. If we didn’t have access to rail, water, interstates, and the sky organizations like PTT Global Chemical America wouldn’t even consider our area – let alone invest over $100 million to carry out necessary studies here.
We’ll continue to keep you updated on the future of Your Ohio Valley and your economy.