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Wood County Development seeks project funding from American Recovery Act

Lindsey Piersol (File Photo)

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Development would like American Recovery Act funds to make potential sites ready for development in the county.

Executive Director Lindsey Piersol appeared before the Wood County Commission on Thursday to discuss the challenges they have in bringing development to the area and how the recovery act money might help move forward on potential projects.

Piersol said they are working on a number of projects in the area. Some of the companies they are working with have specific requirements for any site they might consider.

“We are losing some projects because we don’t have shovel-ready sites,” she said. “They are not ready to go.”

Some of the issues they are facing are a lack of utilities at some sites, access to river and rails and more.

“Sewer and water is a big one,” Piersol said.

In some cases companies have had to have an answer in around 120 days, which is not enough time to do some of the work needed for some of these sites.

“We want more jobs and to expand the tax base,” Piersol said. “We are getting to the point where we are getting leads, they are finding reasons to mark us off their list, not keep us on their list.

“We need to do the work to get our sites prepped and ready.”

Commission President Blair Couch said many sites locally are owned by private individuals.

“We have property owners who are willing to do things to make things happen,” he said. “We have others who are just waiting for a check.”

Piersol wants to see if something can be done that might spur development.

Pickering and Associates have put together a plan to build a 30,000 square-foot spec building shell with no floor and no plumbing. The cost would be around $2.5 million.

Property like the SABIC site is around 386 acres, but there are currently conditions on it that won’t let it be split up. Piersol said no one is looking for that much land with many looking for around 75 acres.

“There are other great pieces of property,” Piersol said.

They are eligible and looking for other state and federal funding to redevelop former manufacturing sites within Wood County, many of which have been sitting idle for years, she said.

Officials are looking for ways to remove some of these buildings and do cleanup to the sites.

It could be an ideal location, but people see the buildings there and don’t want to tear them down or worry about what might be in the ground around them.

Commission Bob Tebay was in favor of using some of the recovery money to tear down some of those buildings to open up land for development.

Development officials are also looking a a combination of public and private funding to do something with those properties.

“If we don’t do something with them there will be another fire (referring to the IEI Fire in Oct. 2017) or they are going to fall apart,” Piersol said.

Also, a price to lay gas lines to a potential site last month was $350 a linear foot

“When you are talking about a massive project it adds up really fast,” Piersol said.

She did not know the status of the IEI site in Parkersburg.

Wood County Development is looking to recruit light manufacturing and manufacturing businesses among others.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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