Economy: Ethane cracker supports wariness of promise

It seems as though the dream of an ethane cracker facility on the former SABIC plant on W.Va. 892 — at least as far as Braskem is concerned — is dead. Members of the Joint Committee on Natural Gas Development were told last week the company has put the property to which so many Mid-Ohio Valley hopes were pinned back on the market.

It seems like bad news. But local officials are correct to interpret the announcement positively. Most people in our region have understood for years the pie-in-the-sky promises we were fed about the cracker plant that was going to save us all were nonsense. So we stared at a piece of property and an empty facility for all those years, knowing nothing was happening with it.

Now, at the very least, we know there is hope for SOMETHING on that property, should another buyer come forth.

Lawmakers and other local officials who want to be able to work toward bringing another employer to that property now have more freedom to do so.

But they will forgive Mid-Ohio Valley residents who have already bought in to cries of “wolf” from the previous gubernatorial administration and Odebrecht/Braskem/A.S.C.E.N.T, or from the current governor’s office and his alleged state-saving multi-billion-dollar deal with China. They will practically have to have paychecks in hand from any new employer to believe it is really happening.

Meanwhile, the announcement also presents a fantastic opportunity to stop waiting for the next big thing that will save our economy. The future might not look like that. If it comes, wonderful; but the future might look more like smaller and non-traditional (for the MOV, anyway) employers driven by entrepreneurs who are part of our community — who have more at stake in the endeavor than just feeding politicians soundbites to pass along to their constituents and (maybe) counting the money that comes their way.

Let’s use this opportunity to shift away — as a community and as a state — to move away from hoping someone else is going to do the heavy lifting in this economic transition for us.

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