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ONLY ON 9: $300K grant will repurpose Weirton’s vacant steel sites

WTOV

A recent federal grant is going to be used to repurpose former Weirton steel facilities.

“This is 1,100 acres of real estate that you can plan for a variety of different uses,” said Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corporation.

“Everybody forecasted that it was time,” said City Manager Travis Blosser. “These buildings have just been sitting vacant."

Former Weirton steel properties have been vacant for years, but they are under new ownership. Ford now has one question on his mind.

“How do we prioritize in that 1,100 acres to ready them for economic development and private investment to occur in the city of Weirton?" he said.

A $300,000 grant from the federal economic development administration to the BDC and the city of Weirton will certainly help with that plan. Once the facilities are repurposed and put on the market, Ford says the possibilities are endless.

“We are easily anticipating anywhere from $50 million to $2 billion in private investment, just in this 1,100 acres alone," he said.

And with private investment comes job creation.

Ford says they conservatively estimate that 500 jobs can be created.

“But, more realistically, we easily anticipate this site, when it's fully repurposed could generate upwards of 2,500 jobs," he said.

Ford says the Northern Panhandle has missed out on 2 petrochemical plants because the area didn’t have the property for a business that large.

“The exciting news today is that moving forward, we can now put this property in play, and be a front runner in some of these downstream petrochemical companies that are looking for a home in the Ohio River Valley," Ford said.

Blosser says it's teamwork at the local level that has made this kind of growth possible.

“Not one individual can move the ball the way that we are,” Blosser said. “It's because we're working together as a community and we've got to continue to do that."

The $300,000 being allocated is a part of roughly $8 million being used to support economic development in areas hit by the coal industry's decline.

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