Some progress to report

One of the easiest things to do when groups gather is to talk about the bad things that are happening in our area.

You’re likely hear discussions on a wide range of topics, from a lack of economic growth, to crumbling infrastructure to a drug problem that no one can get a handle on.

It’s important, though, that you don’t look past the good news. And, in case you need a reminder, you should look at our annual progress edition. The first installment of Progress 18: Pride. Purpose. Prosperity appeared in Friday’s edition. The remaining four sections will be delivered later this month and, when looked at as a whole, will offer an in-depth look at the successes area businesses have enjoyed during the past year.

Maybe even more important, the stories offer a look at growth that’s expected in the future.

During its long history, our progress edition has become one of the most-anticipated publications of the year. Our readers have come to expect the in-depth coverage of what’s happening around our region. Businesses, meanwhile, are happy to have the opportunity to talk about their past success and how they plan to build for the future.

If you didn’t have the chance to sit down with Friday’s first installment, you need to.

It’s a comprehensive overview of the region’s economic outlook as well as what’s happening in the energy sector.

A lot of the discussion centers around two ethane cracker plants — one that is under construction in Monaca, Pa., and one that could be built in the Dilles Bottom area. Each of the massive facilities will require more than 6,000 workers during the building phase, and will employ more than 600 once operations are up and running.

That Monaca plant alone represents a $6 billion investment, according to Shell, which is building the facility. When production begins, the facility will use gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to produce 1.6 million metric tons of polyethylene, which is used as a feedstock for manufacturing various plastic goods.

If the Dilles Bottom plant is built, our area will sit almost in the middle of the facilities, and that figures to offer the potential for our economy to benefit.

The key to making that happen is collaboration, and that’s a point that’s driven home by Evan Scurti, Ed Looman and Pat Ford.

Each has an area of concentration, and each recognizes that working together can benefit everyone. There are important overviews of the work being done by Scurti and the Jefferson County Port Authority; Looman and the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, which covers Jefferson, Carroll, Holmes, Coshocton, Harrison, Guernsey and Belmont counties; and Ford and the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle inside the section that appeared Friday.

You’ll find a look at our communities, retail business and the financial sector included in this Friday’s edition; information about tourism and lifestyles in the Feb. 16 edition; health and education in the Feb. 23 edition; and business, industry and transportation in the Feb. 28 edition.

We can’t run or hide from the problems our region faces. The reality is much of our infrastructure is old and needs to be upgraded or replaced, as the water woes that hit Steubenville last month demonstrate. And, while there’s an opioid epidemic that’s affecting the entire nation, our region has been hit especially hard, which is one of the reasons Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Pittsburgh Monday to announce the formation of the Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement team, which has been designed to disrupt online opioid sales. But another reason he chose to stop in Pittsburgh is because it has become a center for the technical expertise needed to attack the problem.

That said, it’s important to know that there are people, organizations and businesses that are looking ahead, working for ways to improve the lives of all who live in the Tri-State Area.

Their stories need to be shared — and we’re happy to be able to do that in our progress edition.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)