Culvert plant prospects said encouraging

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission was told Tuesday the former Wheeling Corrugating Plant has received strong interest since the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle acquired it in November.

John Frankovitch, a member of the BDC’s board of directors, said a number of businesses have expressed interest in the site, which includes a 480,000 square foot building on 650 acres along state Route 2 in Beech Bottom.

He added it also was featured in a story in The Wall Street Journal as part of the newspaper’s ongoing Deal of the Week series.

Frankovitch said with the acquisition and cleanup of the former Taylor, Smith & Taylor Pottery property in Chester, the BDC has two viable sites for economic development. Noting the TS&T site is at the north end of Hancock County and the Wheeling Corrugating site is near the south end of Brooke County, he said they need not be in competition for potential businesses.

Commission President Tim Ennis said he’s pleased by the group’s efforts because it will help to ensure the plant doesn’t remain unused.

The property was purchased initially by Hackman Capital of Los Angeles through federal bankruptcy proceedings for RG Steel, its last owner.

It was then sold to the BDC for $200,000 because the economic development group has access to public funds available for environmental assessments and cleanups.

The BDC secured more than $1 million from local, state and federal funds for that purpose at the TS&T site.

BDC Executive Director Pat Ford told the Brooke County Economic Development Authority Hackman is interested not only in the plant’s equipment but also in attracting a new occupant.

Beech Bottom Councilman Bob Sadler told the commission Beech Bottom Council has discussed offering tax credits “to make it (the site) more attractive and do whatever it takes to bring more jobs into the county.”

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