WELLSBURG - The leader of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle provided an update on developments at the Three Springs Business Park and former Wheeling Corrugating Plant at Wednesday's meeting of the Brooke County Economic Development Authority.
BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said Sheehan Pipeline is expected to be in full operation at the corrugating plant next month and will employ about 600, including about 300 local union employees.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company will be building a 40-mile pipeline from an area north of Washington, Pa., through the Northern Panhandle and into Ohio.
Ford added Pietro Fiorentini, the Italian company that will operate out of the plant while building a permanent facility at the Three Springs Business Park, will be hiring welders and taking them to Milan for training.
The company is expected to employ 41 initially, with a potential for up to 150 later, he said.
Ford said plans call for the company to occupy about 15,000 square feet at the former Wheeling Corrugating Plant in Beech Bottom over the next three years while it moves forward with plans to build a permanent plant in Weirton.
It will be the first American production facility for the company, which produces pressure regulators, valves and pressure reducing and metering systems for the natural gas industry and has a sales office in Atlanta.
Ford said Weirton was chosen following a nationwide search by Fiorentini. He said among the many who helped to attract the company were the BDC, the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, which offered a financing package for the construction, and Weirton Council, which approved almost $800,000 for the extension of an access road to the plant's future site.
Weirton Mayor George Kondik, who is vice chairman of the economic development authority, said the access road is being funded through tax increment financing.
The measure allows tax for property improvements at the Three Springs Business Park to be waived temporarily in anticipation of additional revenue to be generated from the upgrades.
Ford said factors in Fiorentini's decision to open in Weirton were the city's quality of life and the welcome it received from local officials.
"They really like to live and go to school and church in the community where they work," he said of Fiorentini's employees.
Ford said a March 19 auction for thousands of pieces of equipment at the corrugating plant was successful, with everything on the auction block sold, but not everything was put up for bid.
He said the BDC has been approached by individuals interested in reopening the plant's paint lines, so equipment there wasn't included.
Also not included were many pieces of office furniture and assorted office supplies, which will be donated to the Weirton United Way and Beech Bottom's Neighborhood Watch program, respectively, for distribution to local nonprofit groups.
Ruby Greathouse, curator of the Brooke County Museum, also has been invited to visit the plant to select photos and other items that may be displayed there.
Ford said the donations are through the generosity of Hackman Capital, which purchased the equipment and has been working with the BDC to market the 650-acre site and 480,000-square-foot facility to new tenants.