PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell is staying positive about the potential for a large petrochemical development in his area.

Last month, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin joined officials with Odebrecht in Wood County to announce the company’s exploration of the possible project that could include an ethane cracker and three polyethylene plants along with the associated infrastructure for water treatment and energy.

Newell says he wasn’t there in person, but he was there in spirit, and is still over the moon about the project, which could bring in billions of dollars to the area, in and around Washington, in the coming years.

“The company has done a lot of due diligence over the last year. They’ve already invested a lot into looking into these properties down here,” according to the Mayor.

He admits he has heard from the naysayers about the project called Ascent, which stands for Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise.

“There is some skepticism by some people, but most people are feeling really good about it. They believe it is coming,” says Newell.  “I do too. I share that thought.”

If the project does get off the ground, Newell said he believes it will transform the entire region. New businesses will pop up, tax collections will increase and there will be opportunities for the area’s young people to stick around after college, he said.

Newell joked they may have to build a few hotels to hold everyone.  “It may be a problem, but it’s a good problem,” he laughed.

Newell said he understands why Odebrecht is taking its time with the project and the site selection. Dutch Shell’s proposed ethane cracker in southwestern Pennsylvania got a lot of attention several years ago, but so far nothing has come from it.

The mayor says it’s better to be a little cautious when you’re talking about billions of dollars.  “We know it’s going to take a little time for it to gel. There’s still a lot of work to be done,” said Newell.

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  • D McKeever

    It will never evolve because Ohio and Pennslyvania have more to offer.

  • Artie Smithers

    Yeah, I remember the day before this was announced. It was portrayed as an announcement on the lines of a "done deal". I'll admit, I laughed a little bit cynically the next day when I read in the paper that the extent of this deal was essentially a case of the company "...exploring the possibility of maybe thinking about considering at some time in the future....." putting the plant there. Really, why do you even announce this?

  • Gilbert Gnarley

    Whether Democrat or Republican or Rastafarian, it's quite a change to go from The Grand Announcement to "potential development" or "belief".

    Since no politician would dare admit it, I save them the trouble: "You boys are hedging your bets, aren't you?"