BDC director reflects on successful year

WEIRTON, W.Va. — The Business Development Corporation is beginning to look back on a productive 2016.The BDC had acquired several properties as well as thousands of dollars in grant money.For the past five years, the BDC of the Northern Panhandle has been hard at work acquiring land, applying for grants and loans and in 2016 a lot of that hard work paid off as a number of projects broke ground and carry into the new year.The BDC falls on some unique topography.“We're either hillsides or flood plane and mill sites,” Executive Director Pat Ford said.But that hasn't hindered any economic development. 2016 was a year in which the former Follansbee steel site was bought, ground was broken on the old TS&T plant, as well as a number of other projects“And while all this is happening, we've also continued to repurpose this Three Springs business park,” Ford said.All that work takes a whole lot of man power.“We've had the highest increase in construction jobs in the Weirton/Steubenville metropolitan area over the past two years,” Ford said.But none of the above comes cheap. The BDC applied for a number of state and federal grants.“To assist us with acquisition, remediation and site preparation for all these sites. It really paid off in 2016,” Ford said.The outcome was roughly $900,000 worth of grants and $3 million worth of loans now at its disposal.“You're looking at somewhere around almost $4 million of state and federal money that has come into our area,” Ford said.As 2016 comes to a close, Ford reflected on the wide range of projectsthat progressed throughout the year and says he is excited to carry the momentum with them into 2017.“We need to take a breather, and we need to focus on those sites for which we got those grants for, and make sure we prepare those sites for business and industry, and that's going to really be the focus of our efforts in 2017,” he said.