An ethylene cracking plant that Shell Oil Co. could build in Beaver County‘s Potter Township may generate hundreds of technical jobs that would demand a chemistry-savvy workforce, experts said Friday.
A study by the American Chemistry Council, completed in August, found that if such a plant were located in Western Pennsylvania, it would eventually spur related industrial developments that would directly employ around 2,400 people at a total annual payroll of $347 million.
Around a quarter of the employees needed would be supervisors, managers, chemists, engineers and information technologists, and many of the rest would be technicians, said Kevin Swift, chief economist for the council.
It was a quote about the area’s manufacturing’s legacy that would resonate throughout the year across Washington County.
When French-based Alstom Grid officially opened its new 25,000-square-foot disconnect switch manufacturing plant in Speers Industrial Park in early March, Dennis Yablonsky, chief executive officer of Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, succinctly summed up the company’s decision to add another operation to its high-voltage circuit-breaker plant here.
“We still make things here,” Yablonsky said, noting that within the Pittsburgh region there are 188 companies employing more than 10,000 people working in power management and distribution.
Williamsport is right in the middle of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale natural gas boom. The city is looking to build a compressed natural gas fueling station on W. Third Street, at the River Valley Transit headquarters. The fueling station would become a destination for vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. Currently a gallon of compressed natural gas is about a 1/3 the price of gasoline.
Williamsport is working with Lafayette, LA. Lafayette has already converted their fleet vehicles to natural gas. Williamsport would like to convert all city vehicles to natural gas. Lafayette is sharing information with Williamsport, at no cost, as an educational tool. In addition to county vehicles, school district vehicles and businesses could benefit from gas-powered vehicles.
Williamsport has applied for many grants to make this fueling station a reality. Williamsport has the infrastructure for natural gas transmission to the new facility, if constructed. The fueling station would cost about $4 million. Depending on usage, the operator of the fueling station could even receive a percentage of the natural gas used.
Lycoming County Commissioner, Jeff Wheeland, also on the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Commission, Williamsport Mayor, Gabriel Campana, Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce CEO, Vincent Matteo and River Valley Transit GM and City Director of Administration Williams Nichols are all proponents of Williamsport looking for ways to benefit from the natural gas industry.
The William T. Piper Memorial Airport Business Campus in Lock Haven was created using a USDA grant to attract small, emerging businesses. Unfortunately, the economy in Clinton County has been unable to attract any tenants, until now. Anadarko Marcellus Midstream will be leasing 14 acres at the airport business park. Lock Haven City Council approved a ten-year lease.
Anadarko Marcellus Midstream sets up gas pipelines. They will be creating a pipe lay-down yard on the property for now and eventually constructing a building for pipe assembly and office space. Anadarko will pay $24,984 a year in rent for this property. Anadarko has also agreed to pay $185,442 to cover the depreciated value of the business park improvements.
Anadarko feels it is important to have offices in counties where they do business. Sproul State Forest, Clinton County, has a great deal of Marcellus Shale activity.