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Chemical industry reacts to purchase of Dow Institute site

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Those who monitor the chemical industry in the West Virginia say the decision by Dow to sell its Institute industrial park to Texas-based Altivia is not surprising and could prove positive for the marketing available property at the site.

The industrial park at Institute is changing hands.

Altivia announced its purchase of the 460-acre park Tuesday. The company plans to allow the nine other companies already with units there to continue operate including US Methanol, which has a plant under construction that’s expected to open sometime next summer or fall.

The park has 230 additional acres that are open for development. The West Virginia Chemical Alliance Zone, Charleston Area Alliance and state Department of Commerce have shopped that property around the globe for Dow. Chemical Alliance Zone Executive Director Kevin DiGregorio said he hopes the group can have a similar relationship with Altivia.

“We’re hoping and thinking that Altivia will have the same thoughts or maybe use it for their own businesses,” DiGregorio said. “I have no inside information for either one yet.”

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper expressed similar hope for future development in a statement released Tuesday.

“Dow has been a good steward to the community, and while we are disappointed, they are no longer going to own the Institute site, we are excited that Altivia has chosen to make Kanawha County its home. This could be a great opportunity for economic development for Kanawha County and we look forward to working with Altivia on future projects,” Carper said.

Kevin DiGregorio

DiGregorio said the property has a lot going for it including river, rail and interstate access along with existing utility infrastructure.

“So somebody coming to build a new facility, take US Methanol for example, they don’t have to put all that kind of infrastructure into the site. They would just have to purchase those utilities from the site owner and that’s a big draw,” DiGregorio said.

Altivia also purchased Dow’s acetone derivative unit on the site. DiGregorio said it’s a unit that’s been around and successful since World War II. Altivia has announced it plans to keep the 61 Dow workers currently employed there.

“Acquiring this facility and associated technology provides downstream expansion for Altivia’s acetone production capacity and access to global markets, for acetone derivatives,” Altivia’s CEO Michael Jusbasche said in a statement announcing the purchase.

DiGregorio said it’s not uncommon for sites like the one in Institute to change hands.

“I wasn’t surprised that something happened. You can imagine they (Dow) were talking to more than one entity,” he said.

DiGregorio said it will take the chemical industry some time to digest the purchase and what it means for the future.

“We’ll have meetings with the right people from Altivia and make sure know we’re here to help them with whatever they want to do to keep that site moving forward. Whether they bring in their own facilities and grow or if they want us to continue to look for companies to come in there for them and with them. So we’ll figure that out as time goes on,” DiGregorio said.

Altivia is a privately held company located in Houston, Texas, founded in 1986 as a water treatment chemical producer. It operates Petrochemicals, Specialty Chemicals and Inorganic Water Treatment Chemicals.

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