Area mayors look to cracker plant boost

PARKERSBURG – Mayors of Wood County’s three cities reacted to the news about the construction of the Ascent ethane cracker plant to be located in Washington Bottom.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said while the likely site of the new cracker plant is not in Parkersburg, the city and surrounding region still will benefit.

“We’ve been anticipating this since the site selection companies came in two or three years ago,” he said. “We knew they were looking at that location. The whole community has been anticipating this.”

Newell said such a plant would bring more economic opportunities for the Mid-Ohio Valley. Already the city has been working to help developers put in more housing, such as long-term rental spaces, hotels and apartments.

“We’ve been ramping up around the city and the entire region with new hotels, not just in Parkersburg but in Marietta as well,” he said. “There are a lot of ancillary businesses that will benefit. The actual cracker plant is certainly going to be the icing on the cake.”

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said the new plant is the best economic development news in decades.

“I think this is absolutely amazing for the entire valley with the jobs that will come, all the support businesses,” he said. “It’s a game-changer; it will chage the face of the valley for the next 100 years.”

Rapp said the selection of West Virginia and Wood County is significant.

“It says a lot about the quality of the people we have here and the quality of the worker we have here,” he said. “I think it’s a true statement of how we live in Wood County.”

Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford said she too was excited about the possibilities for growth not only in Wood County but for the surrounding areas.

“I think it’s a great thing for our town, our county and the state” she said

Ford said the new plant, like the Hino factory, located in Williamstown, will benefit everyone.

“This will be a boost for us also,” she said. “This will employ people from our town, it’s a great time for us.”

Newell said the new plant may also boost a city plan to develop a Depot Street property, which houses the state’s District 3 Department of Transportation Headquarters, into a permanent port. The property is about 15 acres, 12 of which are along the Little Kanawha River and includes several buildings for storage and shipping.

“A lot of downstream properties will need to be added,” to support the new plant, Newell said, “and that includes the Depot Street port.”

Newell said fracking in other areas of the state already have provided an economic boost to the region, and locating a plant in Wood County will have an immediate affect on the entire Mid-Ohio Valley.

“The operations in Doddridge County have had an impact on Parkersburg and even over into Ohio,” he said. “It affects the entire region.”