Ford heading to Canada for business mission

Patrick Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, is heading to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 12-14 for the Global Petroleum Show, considered to be North America’s leading energy exhibition and conference, with the goal of promoting the economic development possibilities of the region.

Ford explained he was contacted by officials with the West Virginia Development Office about attending the conference to represent West Virginia.

“They’ve put together a small delegation,” Ford said.

According to its website, the Global Petroleum Show is attended by more than 50,000 trade professionals from 115 countries, with presentations by more than 100 industry experts.

Being in Calgary also will provide Ford with a chance to meet with officials with the parent company of Bidell Gas Compression, which began operating its U.S. headquarters in Weirton in 2017. He said he hopes to learn more about Bidell’s plans for the future in West Virginia and show others what the company has accomplished.

“We want Bidell’s story to be shared,” he said. “It’s a unique opportunity for us.”

He said the Tri-State Area has been receiving attention because of the industrial experience of the local labor force.

“It’s in our DNA and that goes back generations,” Ford said.

This won’t be Ford’s first international business mission, either. He has represented West Virginia during multiple trips to Japan, as well as several European nations.

“We are now on the radar internationally,” Ford said, noting a focus on the energy, chemical and value-added metals industries. “Those three industries are finding the Ohio River Valley a great place to operate.”

Such trips have helped with the 2012 expansion of Wheeling-Nisshin in Follansbee, and the decision by Bidell and Italian firm Pietro Fiorentini to locate operations in Weirton.

(Howell can be contacted at, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT