BDC earns honors in brownfield programs

LOCAL NEWS SEP 14, 2016       The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle was recognized during last week’s West Virginia Brownfields Conference with the West Virginia Brownfield Award in Economic Development. Among those participating in the conference were, from left, Marvin Six, BDC assistant director; Pat Ford, BDC executive director; Mike Swartzmiller, a member of the BDC’s executive board; and Patrick Kirby, executive director of the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center. — Contributed CHARLESTON — The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle continues to be recognized for its efforts in economic development, receiving an award during the 11th-annual West Virginia Brownfields Conference held last week in Charleston. The BDC was awarded with the West Virginia Brownfield Award in Economic Development, which recognizes a project or community partner that demonstrates excellence in economic development on one or more brownfield sites. “These awards recognize individuals and communities who have made major contributions to the redevelopment of brownfields in West Virginia,” said Patrick Kirby, executive director of the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center. The BDC has transformed formerly contaminated properties and brownfields throughout the Northern Panhandle and has leveraged $69 million of private and public investment on brownfield redevelopment projects in Chester, Newell, Weirton, Wellsburg and Beech Bottom. The term brownfield site means real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. “There have been many people and organizations who have been intimately involved in the success of developing brownfields,” said Patrick Ford, executive director of the BDC. “The board of directors of the BDC is honored to accept this award from the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, and does so with gratitude for all of those people who played a role in the development of brownfields in Brooke and Hancock counties.” The BDC’s focus on brownfield sites began with the acquisition of the former Taylor, Smith and Taylor pottery site in Chester, which is in the process of being repurposed for future businesses. “After our initial acquisition of our first brownfield, the former Taylor, Smith & Taylor Pottery Factory in Chester, we saw more opportunities to repurpose overlooked abandoned properties for industrial and commercial uses,” said Mike Swartzmiller, Hancock County Commission president and executive board member of the BDC. “We see brownfields as the perfect chance to revitalize and reuse properties in Northern Panhandle communities. Today, brownfields in Brooke and Hancock counties are home to over two dozen businesses.” Also on hand at the awards ceremony was George Hines, chair of the Brick Yard Bend Revitalization Group in New Cumberland. Hines credited the community members and other organizations with which the BDC has partnered in recent years on its various projects. Those partnerships, he said, have helped many of the local projects to move forward, providing funding for planning, marketing and cleanup, as well as opportunities to invest in abandoned properties. “The award is more a reflection of the work of the people behind the scenes — USEPA, WVDEP, Northern Brownfields Assistance Center, Benedum Foundation, elected officials and all the volunteers who commit the time in our task force meetings to identify, acquire, clean up and develop these abandoned properties,” Ford said. Among some of the BDC’s ongoing efforts are projects in Chester with the former Taylor, Smith and Taylor pottery, the former Brooke Glass in Wellsburg, the former Wheeling Corrugating site in Beech Bottom, the Three Springs Business Park in Weirton and an historic lodge and former high school football field in Weirton. Earlier this year, the BDC’s brownfield redevelopment efforts were featured in a new U.S. EPA-sponsored video for other economic development groups to use as a reference.