Commissioner: Wood County showing state it works

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The groundbreaking for a possible petrochemical complex in Wood County will likely come years from now, if it happens at all.

Already, though, Wood County Commissioner David Blair Couch tells MetroNews his community is sending the right message to other potential developers about the economic viability of the area.

“It wasn’t just the site, although having a site that was flat, near the Ohio River that’s near rail, certainly fell into the whole mix of it,” said Couch.  “But it’s such a wonderful time and I really think we showed the state that we really do work.”

Officials with Odebrecht, a Brazilian company, have a purchase option for an industrial site near DuPont in Washington, West Virginia.

That site could be the potential future home of a multi-billion dollar project called Ascent, the Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise, which could include an ethane cracker and three polyethylene plants along with the associated infrastructure.

Couch said the impact of such facilities would be huge for Wood County and surrounding areas.

“The additional jobs that will be here for the long term, the downstream products, companies that will base here because of the proximity to the cracker, but the most immediate is all these construction workers that will want to come here and bring their families,” he said.

“The hope is, always, when you have someone visit that you make them want to stay.”

Company executives have spoken cautiously about the project, pointing out there are still many more hurdles for it to clear and making it clear the effort is only in the exploration phase.  They have only said “a lot of jobs” could be created.

Ascent’s feasibility, they said, will depend on factors like the contracting of long-term ethane supply, as well as financing, regulatory approvals and appropriate governmental support.

“Regardless of what happens, if they can make it all the way work, awesome, if they struggle with it, Wood County will still be here and we’ll still work real hard,” said Couch.

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