Officials plan trip to ND for fact-finding


Parkersburg News and Sentinel


A dozen Ohio and West Virginia officials are heading north this winter to learn how a North Dakota city at ground zero of the shale boom dealt with a rapidly growing population.

The mayors of Parkersburg; Vienna; Belpre, Ohio; and Marietta, Ohio, hope to apply lessons from Minot, N.D., to what the Mid-Ohio Valley’s experience will be if and when an anticipated ethane cracker plant is built in Wood County.

“We’re trying to focus right now on getting ready for a bunch of people to come into the area,” Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said.

The four-day trip is scheduled for Jan. 25-28. Also scheduled to attend are Parkersburg and Vienna development officials and police chiefs, representatives from the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, which supports economic development activities in eight counties, and Wood County Commissioner-elect Bob Tebay.

Newell said a representative of Odebrecht, the company whose subsidiary is planning the cracker facility, advised officials a few months back to start preparing before the project is confirmed, because things will move quickly after that.

Project ASCENT (Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise), a multibillion-dollar petrochemical complex centered around the cracker, was unveiled in 2013 by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and officials from Brazil-based Odebrecht.

The company has not confirmed the project will happen, but it has spent millions of dollars preparing, including purchasing the SABIC facility in Washington, W.Va.

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