Residents across the 1st Congressional District may be envious of Wood County’s potential new cracker plant, but local officials are right to understand there is a great deal of work to be done if we are to make the most of such a development.
It was a bit of a surprise to learn there are still residents who do not know “cracker” refers to the process of cracking – or converting – ethane into the more widely used ethylene, used in the plastics industry. But it is an indication there is still a good bit of education needed, if area residents are to understand how such a plant might benefit them.
Education will be important for the schools, too, as middle and high schools and local colleges work to adjust their curricula to meet the needs of new employers in our area.
More tangible necessities, such as improved roads, better Internet access and communications capability, and other infrastructure changes must take shape as plans for the cracker progress. And that all takes money. A good deal of money.
When Parkersburg City Council members had an opportunity to sit down with U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., this week, they brought up many of these issues. Right now, as council member Sharon Lynch put it, “I just see us growing and growing and growing, and we can’t handle it, and nobody seems to want to give us any money.”
McKinley, however, was correct in saying it is important for leaders to understand those needs, but that “We can’t deliver on everyone’s wish list.” McKinley knows he must not promise money over which he has no control, though perhaps he can use his resources to help Wood County officials search out some means of funding.
With the help of leaders such as McKinley, who appears not to be simply telling folks what they want to hear, and Parkersburg City Council members, who seem to have a keen interest in properly preparing for a potential cracker plant, maybe the Mid-Ohio Valley will, indeed, be ready for the economic boost for which we have waited so long.