Looking toward the new year

Today is the first day of 2019, and if the new year is anything like 2018, residents around the Tri-State Area can expect to see some exciting developments.

As with the start of any new year, there’s a sense of hope, a feeling of optimism and the thought that things will be a little brighter than they have been in the past.

It’s likely many good things will come our way.

We figure to return to the ranks of steelmaking regions this year. JSW Steel USA expects to begin full-time production at the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. plant in Mingo Junction this year. The company plans to invest more $500 million in the facility, money that has helped to restart the electric-arc furnace that had sat idle for a decade and, likely will cover the installation of a second furnace. That means good jobs will be available to area workers — and communities, especially Mingo Junction, should see an uptick in tax revenue.

Work will continue on the new Ohio River bridge which will connect Wellsburg and Brilliant. In addition to providing another much-needed river crossing in our area, the bridge likely will open up the possibility of economic growth in southern Jefferson and Brooke counties.

The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, under the direction of Executive Director Pat Ford, expects to see continued expansion and growth in Hancock and Brooke counties. And, the Jefferson County Port Authority, which is led by Evan Scurti, looks to continue to work to bring new businesses to the region.

Oil and gas will be a force in the region — construction continues on the Shell ethane cracker in Monaca, and officials tell us the development of another cracker in Dilles Bottom could begin soon.

Steubenville and Weirton sit almost at the halfway point between the sites, which means our area should be perfectly positioned for businesses related to the crackers.

Changes will continue on the campus of Trinity Medical Center West as renovation work continues there, and we also should see more growth at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and Eastern Gateway Community College.

We will be the first to admit that the view from our crystal ball has, in the past, been hazy at times. With that in mind, we are hesitant to make any more predictions about what the new year will bring. We are confident, though, that there will be a few big surprises that will change the look of our region.

And, as always, we know whatever happens will be interesting to cover, and it will be our pleasure to bring you the news of the day from our area, in print and and through our website and social media platforms.

Happy 2019.