NEW CUMBERLAND – Hancock County commissioners are starting to see a return on their decision to deed three properties to the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle. On Thursday, commissioners received a check for $115,000 from the BDC for Domino's Pizza's lease of the old Weirton Heights Volunteer Fire Station, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. in Weirton. Commissioners had previously deeded the building, as well as two vacant high school football stadiums, to the BDC for $500,000 with the stipulation that they would not see the money until the properties were sold. Article Photos William D'Alesio, board chairman for the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, shows off a 'check' for $115,000 that he gave to Hancock County commissioners on Thursday. — Stephen Huba The Domino's Pizza deal is the first of three that will result in checks for commissioners in the coming months, said BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford. Other agreements are pending for the sale of Newell Memorial Field and the old Jimmy Carey Stadium in Weirton, he said. “These are the stories we like,” Ford told commissioners on Thursday. “We're here to create jobs, and we're going to continue to do that.” Ford and BDC board Chairman William D'Alesio brought a large check and a real check to Thursday's commissioners meeting, noting that there will be another announcement at the Nov. 20 commissioners' meeting. “That money is not going into the general fund,” Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said. “We are going to parlay it by investing it into other properties in the county.” Swartzmiller said the check received on Thursday will go into the county's long-term capital improvement fund. Commissioners, who bought the two football stadiums from Hancock County Schools in December 2012, retain a security interest in the properties until they are sold or leased to a private entity. Commissioners also will receive 90 percent of the net proceeds of any sale that exceeds the $500,000 purchase price, according to the BDC contract. Ford said the deal with Domino's Pizza involves a total investment in Hancock County of $500,000 – the BDC's contribution to the commissioners ($115,000), the BDC's improvements to the site ($65,000), Domino's Pizza's improvements to the old fire station ($300,000), and the BDC's legal fees and other “soft” costs ($20,000). The Domino's Pizza expansion into a “pizza theater” will nearly double the number of employees – from 11 to 20 – and the projected payroll – from $315,000 to $568,000, Ford said. Swartzmiller said Thursday's announcement was not so much about the “big check” but about job creation and a lesson commissioners learned from an economic development conference they attended several years ago. “They said, 'If you don't help yourself, you're not going to get any help,' ” he said.
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