Why The Northern Panhandle

Access to industry, labor, and communities makes our area a tremendous asset to business.

Diversified Economy

Diversified economy–Energy, chemicals, value-added metals, transportation logistics, and health care:

The industry clusters of energy/shale, value-added metals, chemicals, warehouse/distribution/transportation logistics, and health care have grown organically and attracted new investments. Highlights include:

  • Energy/Shale: Ergon (209 FTE), Eagle Manufacturing (200 FTE), Centerpointe Terminal, Marsh Bellofram (347-475 FTE), Bidell (130 FTE), Fiorentini (41 FTE)
  • Value-added Metals: Wheeling-Nisshin (185 FTE), Precoat Metals (77 FTE), ArcelorMittal, Jupiter Aluminum, Coil Slitting International (40 FTE), Bulldog Rack (40 FTE), Crown Cork & Seal (100 FTE), NEO Industries (115 FTE), Chrome Deposit Corporation (30 FTE), Maple Manufacturing Company (30 FTE)
  • Transportation Logistics: Rue21, Starvaggi Port, American Muscle Docks, Campbell Transportation, Feroleto Steel (24 FTE)
  • Healthcare: Weirton Medical Center (1,600 FTE)
  • Chemicals/Ceramics: Koppers (47 FTE), Mountain State Carbon (265 FTE), FSTI, Metsch Refractories (80 FTE), Homer Laughlin China, & Sal Chemical (39 FTE)

Strong record of private investment: $50 million of private investment, annually, since 2010.

Transportation 24 Jobs
Chemicals 431 Jobs
Metals 617 Jobs
Energy 927 Jobs
Healthcare 1700 Jobs

Major Regional Investments

Pietro Fiorentini US

Representative of a $5.5 million investment, with plans to open by the spring of 2018, this will be Italy-based Pietro Fiorentini’s first permanent manufacturing operation in the United States. It is expected to have up to 45 jobs upon the completion of its first phase, with up to 77 additional jobs in future phases. Currently, 19 are employed locally by the company.

According to David Watkins, president of Pietro Fiorentini USA, it has been a five-year process to bring the new factory to Weirton, with initial meetings taking place in 2012. He noted natural gas prices, along with the business environment, support from government officials and the location all played into the company’s decision to locate in Weirton. Another factor was the local labor force, with its industrial background. Pietro Fiorentini manufactures pressure regulators and valves, as well as pressure reducing and metering systems for the natural gas industry.

Bidell ready to begin operations in Weirton

A more than $3 million investment into the area in the north end of Weirton. A 100,000-square-foot building at 1400 Main St., formerly used as a machine shop by ArcelorMittal Steel and its predecessors, is set to begin production of the company’s gas compressor systems in the coming weeks. Bidell took possession of the property Feb. 14, announcing its plans March 10, and has spent the months since working to renovate the building, including the purchase of new cranes and other equipment, constructing work spaces for a variety of jobs, as well as creating office space. Of the 34 current employees, 15 live in Weirton, with seven from other surrounding West Virginia communities, eight from Ohio and three from Pennsylvania. The hope is to add another 100 positions by the end of 2018.

Royal Dutch Shell announced in June 2016 it will build their $8.7 billion ethane cracker in Monaca, PA.

The first major ethane cracker to be built outside the Gulf Coast in 20 years will employ 600 people when it’s up and running in the next decade and as many as 6,000 during construction, which the company said will begin within 18 months. It will convert the plentiful ethane liquid produced by many of the region’s Marcellus and Utica shale wells to the building blocks of common plastic products. There are no more pioneers in the chemical and power plant fields. One of the top three energy companies in the world just reduced the risk for all other plants.

PTT Global Chemical announced in August 2015 the construction of a $5.7 billion ethane cracker in Dilles Bottom (Belmont County), OH.

PTT Global Chemical PCL conducts its business in the Petrochemical and Chemical Sectors. It was ranked in the Top 10 of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) for the second consecutive year and was ranked twenty-second among world-leading petrochemical companies on the ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies listing. The company has seven main business lines and currently has the production capacity of chemical and petrochemical products of 8.8 million ton/year and the refinery capacity of crude oil and condensates of 280,000 Bbl/Day. In addition, it places high value on making investment to expand to specialties chemical products and green chemicals.

Marathon is planning a $2 billion alkylation plant in the tristate area, near their plant in Jewell, OH, in 2016.

One of the things that made the Marcellus shale so exciting for producers at the beginning of the Marcellus boom was that it was rich in natural gas liquids, including ethane, pentane, propane, and butane.  The latter can be refined into alkylate, an octane booster.  It is “key for cleaner burning gasoline”.  So, changing butane to alkylate will help alleviate some of the environmental issues with burning hydrocarbons.  It won’t end it, of course, because hydrocarbons are still being burnt, but it will help. MarkWest is a big player in the so-called midstream part of the energy industry, processing about 75 percent of the rich gas coming from the Marcellus and Utica shales. It’s based in Denver but has major facilities in Chartiers Township, Ellwood City, Butler County, and elsewhere in the shale regions of West Virginia and Ohio. MPLX (NYSE: MPLX) is the pipeline division of Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum.

Southwestern Energy Corp. purchased Chesapeake Energy Corp. assets for $5.4 billion in 2015.

They are deploying 4-6 rigs in 2015 and 11 rigs by 2017. This will add 256 operated and producing horizontal wells and 179 non-operated horizontal wells. $101 million expansion at Ergon in past three years. $23 million improvements, announced in 2016, are to use more Marcellus shale condensate instead of crude (conversion from feedstock requires different equipment. In 2012, Ergon expanded its subsidiary refining facility which enabled the refinery to handle growing regional crude oil production as drilling activities continue to increase throughout the Marcellus and Utica Shale areas. This investment of $78 million added capacity in its refinery processing units and supporting infrastructure.

Multiple natural gas-fired power plants are being planned in West Virginia and Ohio.

The planned investments, over three plants, approach $1.8 billion, 600 permanent jobs, and 7,500 construction jobs.

Declining Unemployment

National Unemployment Rates

West Virginia Unemployment Rates

County Unemployment Rates


  • $50 million in private investment since 2010.
  • In 2016, Brooke and Hancock County realized 16% growth in construction jobs.
  • In 2015, Brooke and Hancock County lead the USA with a 50% growth in construction jobs.


  • Over $50 billion of construction projects coming to our region from large multi-national energy companies.
  • Construction jobs will remain tremendous opportunities for trades.
  • Longer-term employment options will be present.

Hancock County Unemployment Rates

Sustained construction activity: 

Construction jobs:

16% increase in 2016

  • Weirton-Steubenville 3rd in nation in construction growth: Consecutive years tri-county area ranks among highest in nation in increase in construction jobs. See more at: http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2016/12/27/local-construction-jobs-jumped-in-nearby-metro.html
  • The Associated General Contractors report found a gain of 16 percent — 300 jobs — between November 2015 and November 2016 in the Weirton-Steubenville Metropolitan Area. The percentage increase from 1.900 to 2,200 employed was less than only three other markets, all in the West: Boise City, Idaho; El Centro, Calif.; and Albany, Ore.
  • The Weirton-Steubenville Metropolitan Area consists of Brooke and Hancock counties in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and Jefferson County in Ohio.

50% increase in 2015


West Virginia Development Office
The West Virginia Development Office is committed to opening our doors for business by providing the assistance, services and information you need to live and work in West Virginia.

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation has served West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania since it was established in 1944 by Michael and Sarah Benedum. Grants are made to support specific initiatives in the areas of Education, Economic Development, Health and Human Services, and Community Development.

The Northern West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center
The West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers were created in 2005 by the West Virginia Legislature to empower communities to plan and implement brownfields redevelopment projects.  The two Centers promote economic development and environmental and public health protection through innovative redevelopment of brownfield sites.  The Centers also promote and coordinate the development of brownfield property by providing training and technical assistance, facilitating site preparation efforts, engaging community involvement, as well as by helping communities with grant writing and leveraging project funding.

Doing Business In West Virginia
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Cost of doing business in West Virginia
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