WEIRTON, W.Va. — The executive director of the West Virginia Municipal League says the change going on in Weirton is evident.
Lisa Dooley spent a few days in the Hancock County city earlier this week as part of her organization’s annual board meeting. It was her first visit in a few years and she said the change is startling.
“I’m here to tell you that there’s a transformation going on in Weirton, West Virginia,” Dooley told MetroNews Friday. “I told the city manager that I’m excited to leave here—to go back and tell the story–because it’s happening.”
That happening includes the conversions of property that used to be linked to the steel industry to new occupants including several international businesses.
“These are international companies who are looking at the property and the buildings and they are telling them it’s exactly what they are looking for,” Dooley said.
Last October, the U.S Economic Development Administration awarded the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle $300,000 that’s being used for a development plan for 1,100 acres of property the Frontier Group puchased from ArcelorMittal.
Reports indicated a comprehensive plan is being put together for the property and the remaining buildings that could one day create as many as 2,500 new jobs and millions of dollars in private investment.
In another move that happened earlier this year, the Business Development Corporation purchased 72 acres of property in the Three Springs Business Park for a redevelopment project.
Bidell Gas Compression, a subsidiary of Canadian based Total Energy Services Inc., announced plans last year to operate its first U.S. manufacturing site in Weirton. The company is repurposing 100,000 square feet of space at a former ArcelorMittal machine shop known as the Central Machine Building.
“This puts us right square on the radar for industries that want to participate in the energy industry and have a home in the Ohio River Valley,” Patrick Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle told MetroNews after the announcement.
By 2019, Bidell hopes to employee more than 130 people.
Dooley said a lot of the positive things that are happening in Weirton are being made possible by Home Rule.
“It’s an intricate part of how they’ve been able to, not only get these buildings into ownership but get them remediated,” she said.