There’s an undeniable sense of excitement and economic growth on both sides of the river happening now in our area.
With each groundbreaking, ribbon cutting and press conference held, you can actually see our area molding into a thriving place to live and work.
We’ve diversified our economy to include a thriving health care community from our staple hospitals, to the major announcement of the Health Plan relocating to downtown Wheeling, bringing with it, hundreds of jobs…
Something many don’t realize, we also have a legal community growing at a rapid rate.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of state firms are moving into the city of Wheeling, even firms from Pittsburgh, Columbus and Cleveland are moving into the city of Wheeling for many reasons. One because of the growth of health care, the growth of the oil and gas industry–that understand it can work in those fields,” said current Wheeling Mayor, Andy McKenzie.
This growth far exceeds the Wheeling borders or Ohio County for that matter.
As Pat Ford, Executive Director of Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle says, they’ve been preparing for this shift for the last 5 years after a study found 5 areas they should be focusing on to encourage growth and job creation.
Those five areas were:
3) Value added metals
5) Transportation logistics
Ford says they focused their efforts to aggressively go after these industries, and it worked.
“Sure enough, if you go back and look and see where the investments are occurring, the payroll is being added and where the unemployment rate is going down, sure enough it’s in our health care, our local hospitals, it’s in our value added steel we have,” said Ford.
Many people may not even realize there are actually three metal roll coaters in the northern area of the Ohio Valley. Ergon, in Hancock County, has invested $10’s of millions of dollars into their Newell location, and Weirton Medical has tripled in size.
“We were advised at the right time to spend a lot of time in working with them, and sure enough we’ve seen an explosion in all 5 of those areas,” said Ford.
Officials across the Ohio Valley are optimistic about where we are right now and where we’re headed.
“I think the opportunity is endless–We need to get the message out and say come home, come home to Wheeling, come home to the Ohio Valley because there are actually real opportunities happening here,” said McKenzie.
One major opportunity the Ohio Valley is preparing or is the proposed ethane cracker plant.