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Port development could bring new opportunity

With prior experiences in mind, it is understandable there may be some skepticism from area residents when they hear about the possibility of a port development in the Northern Panhandle.

The Port of West Virginia, as it now is recognized by the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, is being developed in Follansbee through the efforts of Empire Diversified Energy on property which once had been owned by Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel.

For the last several years, the site had been held by local developer and entrepreneur Scott Ewusiak and known as Trimodal Terminal. Ewusiak remains an invested part of the development.

The site is located along the Ohio River and already has a small barge loading and unloading operation. But Empire Diversified has plans for much more, and, in recent weeks, has been meeting with representatives of the state Department of Economic Development with hopes of support to get their plans moving.

There are a variety of state and federal funds available which could help to reach those goals, according to EDA Secretary Mitch Carmichael, who was in Follansbee last week to meet with developers and tour their facilities. Others from the state visited Follansbee this week.

Port officials have some big plans in mind for this site, with a goal of bringing in several new businesses and creating hundreds of new jobs. Again, we’ve heard this from others who have proposed port development in our region.

We are encouraged by the fact Empire Diversified already has invested quite a bit of its own money to begin the process, and hope this time is different from previous efforts.

Our region has slowly been working its way toward a more diversified future, and every legitimate effort to build toward growth and job opportunities for our people is welcome.

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