Why The Northern Panhandle

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

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, Eagle/Justrite Safety Group Manufacturing, Marsh Bellofram, Bidell, Pietro Fiorentini
  • Value-added Metals: Wheeling-Nippon, Precoat Metals, ArcelorMittal, Jupiter Aluminum, Colonial Slitting International, Bulldog Rack, Crown Cork & Seal, NEO Industries, Chrome Deposit Corporation, Maple Manufacturing Company 
  • Transportation Logistics: Rue21, Starvaggi Port, American Muscle Docks, Campbell Transportation, Feroleto Steel
  • Healthcare: Weirton Medical Center
  • Chemicals/Ceramics: Koppers, FSTI, Metsch Refractories, Fiesta Tableware Company, Sal Chemical 

Strong record of private investments: $434 million of private investment, annually, since 2010.

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

Regional Economic Development

Building the Wellsburg Bridge

In 2016, Flatiron was awarded the project to build the Wellsburg Bridge. The $131 million bridge is planned to connect WV Route 2 to Route 7 in Brilliant, OH. The bridge is being built offsite and will be delivered by barge before being installed. The bridge is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2021.

Royal Dutch Shell announced in June 2016 it will build their $6-$8 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 an estimated 7,000 have been working during the construction. 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.

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.


National (US)
Unemployment Rates 
  • 2010 – 3.9% 
  • 2019 – 3.7% 
  • OCT 2022 – 3.7% 
West Virginia 
Unemployment Rates 
  • 2010 – 8.6%
  • 2019 – 4.4%
  • SEPT 2022 – 4% 
Hancock County
Unemployment Rates 
  • 2010 – 13.7% 
  • 2019 – 5.4% 
  • JUNE 2022 – 5.5%
Brooke County 
Unemployment Rates 
  • 2010 – 13.3% 
  • 2019 – 5.1% 
  • MAY 2022 – 4.4%


  • $434 million in private investment since 2010.
  • In 2018, Brooke and Hancock County realized 29% growth in construction jobs.
  • In 2017, Brooke and Hancock County percentage increase was among the top 5% of the country and the highest among the MSAs in WV, PA, and OH.


  • 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.


Construction jobs:

29% increase in 2018

  • Weirton-Steubenville ranks 1st in construction growth: Consecutive years tri-county area ranks highest in nation in increase in constructions jobs. See more at: https://www.agc.org/news/2018/05/02/construction-employment-increases-245-metro-areas-between-march-2017-2018-trade
  • The Associated General Contractors report found a gain of 26 percent – 500 jobs (1,900 to 2,400 construction jobs) – between November 2017 and November 2018 in the Weirton-Steubenville Metropolitan Area.
  • The Weirton-Steubenville Metropolitan Area consists of Brooke and Hancock counties in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and Jefferson County in Ohio.

12% increase in 2017

  • The percentage increase is among the top 5% in the country and the highest percentage increase among the MSAs in WV, PA, and OH.
  • The Associated General Contractors report found a gain of 12 percent – 200 jobs (1,700-1,900 construction jobs) – between Nov 2016 and Nov 2017 in the Weirton-Steubenville Metropolitan Area.

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 brownfield redevelopment projects.  The two Centers promote economic development and environmental and public health protection through the 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
A listing of loan, incentive, training, and infrastructure programs to help you do business in West Virginia.

Cost of doing business in West Virginia
Cost of living, labor cost, and utility cost comparisons by state.

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