Former machine shop at ArcelorMittal will see life again
WEIRTON, W.Va. —
The former machine shop at ArcelorMittal, which has been vacant for a decade, will see life again.
A Canada-based company that manufactures equipment for the oil and gas industry will now call the Ohio Valley home. It will be Bidell Company's first U.S.-based operation.
In February, 1,100 acres of land owned by ArcelorMittal was acquired by the Frontier Group, which in turn sold the former machine shop building and a few acres to the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle. A short while later, the the Bidell Company signed a 15-year lease agreement with the BDC.
"For a while, one of the inside jokes at the steel mill was 'the deal's gonna close in another 2 weeks.' We were saying 2 weeks for 5 years," said Brian James, Arcelor Mittal GM.
Now what sounds like a lot of work in a short period of time has actually been in motion for years. The announcement finally made Friday morning is a moment many have been waiting to see come to fruition.
"It's been a bit of a journey for us,” said Sean Ulmer, Bidell president. “We spent a lot of time looking at the whole area, trying to find a shop, trying to find good available labor workforce, and a government that was willing to work with us, and we found all of those boxes ticked off here in Weirton."
"It's a sign of activity. A sign of life. We're open for business,” said Craig Slater from Frontier. "It's flat. It's next to the river. You have utilities. You have the roads. It's industrial."
“I'm really encouraged that we're going in the right direction, and the future is just bright as it can be for the city of Weirton,” Weirton Mayor Harold Miller said.
Officials with Bidell said there will be 60 jobs within the first year alone, and that there can be anywhere north of 120 in the years to follow.
"Jobs create income tax,” Miller said. “They spend money. They support the local businesses. It is all a part of the whole community development, long term development."
Michael Amuso is one of those employees already in place.
"It's a blessing,” Amuso said. “It's going to bring a lot of opportunities for people, (and) for businesses to come together. I think it's awesome. A lot of guys that are laid off now, this is an opportunity for them to get in now while we're starting."
Many key players in the deal all flew in for the announcement, including West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher.
"We are very grateful for them and for the jobs that they're going to create here," said BDC Chairman Bill D’Alesio.