WEIRTON - Brownfield redevelopment will continue to be a priority with the Brooke-Hancock Planning and Development Council in 2013.
At Monday's quarterly meeting, members talked about the progress that's been made in Chester, where the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle has spent the past year overseeing the remediation and demolition of the old Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery, as well as brownfield efforts in other parts of the organization's two-county service area.
Brooke-Hancock Planning Executive Director John Brown said the BDC, "Will be able to sell at a significantly better price" with the site remediation done. That should impact job creation efforts as well, he said.
The council has identified 13 other sites - six of them petroleum-contaminated - with environmental concerns, some of which are already being addressed. They hope to address the others in upcoming funding rounds.
"We are the most active region in West Virginia by far," he said. "We may be one of the most active ones in Region 3 ... it opens up opportunities for a lot of economic development and job development."
Brown said the next round of funding will be very competitive, "but we're hoping to get money again in the next cycle."
Chairman Mark Henne, Wellsburg's city manager, said securing ongoing funding is "going to be critical," adding that redeveloping brownfield sites in the Northern Panhandle is critical to economic development efforts throughout the region.
"All of the incorporated areas (in Brooke and Hancock counties) have a problem with abandoned and dilapidated buildings," Brown added.
BDC Executive Director Pat Ford, meanwhile, pointed out they'd been able to parlay a $5,000 focus grant from the Northern West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center into $1.1 million in public and private grant funding for the Taylor, Smith & Taylor project. Even more important, he said, were the relationships they've forged with the U.S. Economic Development Administration and state and federal environmental regulators.