BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. - Washington County officials are hoping an Oklahoma-based company's purchase of a 3.1-acre parcel at Starpointe Industrial Park near Florence will be a launchpad for regional development.
Mathena Inc. is paying $175,000 for a pad-ready site in the 147-acre Starpointe development, officials said.
Daniel Reitz, executive director of the Washington County Council on Economic Development, said the deal is evidence of "the appeal of Starpointe's condition and location to a wide range of commercial and industrial users."
Mathena, which supplies surface control equipment the oil and gas industry uses in the well-drilling and completion phases, plans to build a 7,200-square-foot building on the property, he said. The company is currently in the design/permitting phase, but Reitz said he anticipates starting construction in early spring. The building should be ready for occupancy by late 2012, with 10-15 workers initially, though Reitz said they expect that number to double in the near future.
Once the Mathena deal closes, the county will have only four sites remaining in Phase I at Starpointe.
"It's very important to us," Washington County Commissioner Lawrence O. Maggi said. "That area has been right on the verge of taking off, but because of a lot of the economic things going on it had (seemed) stagnant for some years. Now it's starting to move. It's close to the airport, and with the gas and oil industry moving in, it's becoming a prime place that a lot of companies will want to locate in."
Maggi said landing a company like Mathena "showcases the industrial park. It brings attention to it. Some other companies looking to move into the area and the region may take a second look at it," he said.
John R. Watson of Pittsburgh's Fourth River Development, Starpointe's marketing company, said there's a tremendous amount of interest in the property.
"A lot of people are looking at the park, it's a desirable location for oil and gas businesses," he said, citing the park's location. Located just off U.S. Route 22, Starpointe is minutes from the Pittsburgh International Airport and boasts easy access to West Virginia and Ohio as well.
"The intent was to create jobs, and it's playing out, which is good. Right now I'd say we're at a little over 150 jobs, almost 200," Watson said.
Maggi said they field numerous inquiries on an almost daily basis.
"We have a central location, and we try to do a one-stop shop here in Washington County," he said. "We have a database of all the properties we have, and when we get inquiries ..." we refer to the list. "Right now, we have a variety of sites we can give them - we have choices, we have places other than Starpointe."
In addition to Starpointe, the county can offer the high-profile and much-in-demand Southpointe I and II, located along I-79 in Cecil Township; Alta Vista, a 256-acre park off I-70 in Fallowfield Township; and the 138-acre California Technology Park in eastern Washington County.
There's also the Donora Industrial Park, a 256-acre development in the borough of Donora; the 9-acre Maiden Business Park and 11-acre Detroit Street site in Washington; and Speers Park, an 80-acre site in the borough of Speers.
The county also is planning for Cool Valley, a 900-acre mixed used park near Southpointe.
All of which bodes well for the future, Maggi said, who pointed out that, with Starpointe's first phase nearly full, they've begun marketing Phase II - a little more than 200 acres, which would offer larger customized parcels aimed at companies that need extra space.
"What's worked well for us is that we've been able to market them well because we have that variety," Maggi said. "Every company has its own needs, but when they come in they want a place now, they want to move in immediately. They don't want to have to wait six months or a year, they want to get started now. So we have several areas they can look at, and each offers its own unique options and advantages."
Maggi said Washington County has been fortunate to have funding it can earmark for development-related projects.
"We're in a unique situation here," Maggi said. "We host a casino, so we get anywhere from $8 million to $12 million from gaming revenues. We're able to use those funds for infrastructure, the road work, to get sites ready. It's been a partnership between the public and private sector."
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)