Development doesn’t happen overnight

One day, you’re driving past an empty field. A few weeks later, the beginnings of a new restaurant, an office building or a manufacturing facility can be seen.

To many, it may seem like magic, bringing a new business into a community seemingly in just a short period.

The fact of the matter is, the construction is usually the easiest part of getting such development projects together.

By now, I’m sure most of heard about Weirton Council’s efforts to tap into Tax Increment Financing funds in order to put together the necessary infrastructure for a development project near Three Springs Drive.

The first phase of that project is set to include four commercial buildings, a proposed conference center and possibly a new hotel.

Later plans would see office space and light industrial facilities.

Much of the news on this project has happened over the last six months, but it has taken years to get to where city officials and developers are.

These funds for new roads, water and sewer lines would never have been available if the city hadn’t created a TIF District in that area back in 2004. That was during the administration of Mayor William Miller. Current mayor, Harold Miller, was a councilman at that time.

When it was created, the TIF District didn’t show much promise, but there were hopes it could lead to something years later. Back then, about the only things in the area were a hotel, a couple of financial institutions and the Weirton Steel General Offices.

Slowly, new hotels were built, restaurants made their home there, Wal-Mart moved its store from down the road and a few other growing businesses set up shop. Pietro Fiorentini currently is constructing its first U.S. manufacturing facility within the district.

Every decision made by those on council, the developers, the entrepreneurs and corporations have led to where this project now stands. Without each step taking place over the last 14 years, it wouldn’t have been possible.

There, of course, are going to be naysayers. There always are. I can’t tell you for certain everything is going to work out the way it is proposed. There are probably going to be some stumbling blocks.

In the end, though, the years of work will culminate in new opportunities for Weirton and surrounding communities. There will be new businesses, providing new jobs and services for the area.

Those developments eventually will allow for additional TIF funds, which will assist with other development in the district.

It’s just not going to happen overnight.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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