Area Roundtable meeting to discuss cracker plant

PARKERSBURG – The proposed ethane cracker plant announcement is expected to be one of the topics of discussion Monday during the Area Roundtable’s annual meeting in Parkersburg.

The meeting, which will be held 4 p.m. at the Blennerhassett Hotel in downtown Parkersburg, will feature State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette as the main speaker along with presentations given by Executive Director of Downtown PKB Carrie Nesselrode, Camden Clark CEO Mike King and Cam Huffman, executive director of the Wood County Development Authority.

With the recent announcement that Wood County was chosen as the site for a possible new petrochemical complex – the ethane cracker plant – to be built by the Brazilian-based company Odebrecht on the site of the SABIC plant in Washington, W.Va., many people have wondered what the far reaching impacts will mean to the area in development and new business as well as what kind of opportunities the facility might generate.

Huffman said Burdette is expected to touch on a number of these points.

”He will talk about the state and the economy which will lead into the project (the proposed ethane cracker plant),” he said.

Huffman said since the announcement was made on Nov. 14, developers have contacted him about the possibility of building hotels as well as other commercial developments and housing in the area.

”My phone has been ringing off the hook,” he said.

Huffman has said the eventual reach of this development will affect every aspect of this community across all sectors.

A cracker plant converts ethane, a byproduct from Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale natural gas, into the widely used ethylene, a key component for the plastics industry.

Although plans, approvals and infrastructure have to be done first, officials believe this project will change the economic position of the region.

With the potential for numerous construction jobs and other related employment, many officials have said there will be an increase need for housing, food and other related services as well as recreation.

Officials said there is a potential for thousands of construction jobs in the initial building phase, followed by many jobs in the operational phase of the facility as well as other jobs created from downstream companies that could locate to the area to take advantage of the new ethane cracker plant.

This has the potential to bring in restaurants, retail and other downstream companies that will come in and use the product, officials said.

Registration for the meeting will continue through the day of the event.

For more information, call the Wood County Development Authority at 304-422-5650.