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Study Says Clarion & Venango Counties Are Prime Locations for Plastics, Petrochemical Industry
(Pictured above: Representatives from NWC, Camoin 310, and CEC Planning)
With the opening of the cracker plant in Beaver County, many are wondering when economic opportunities like that will come to our region.
Representatives for the Pennsylvania Northwest Commission (NWC) and partners presented on Thursday their findings from a study conducted by Camoin 310 and CEC Planning on the opportunities that petrochemical supply chains present to our region.
Petrochemicals are chemical products obtained for oil and natural gas. Petrochemical supply chains refer to the economic process of turning natural gas into ethylene which producers can then use to make plastic products.
According to the officials, a previous study conducted in the region had produced results on the economic opportunity that the abundance of petrochemicals in our region presented but gave no road map forward on how to take advantage of those opportunities.
“Western Pennsylvania is on the verge of having the lowest cost raw material feedstock for plastics on the face of the planet,” claimed Lance Hummer, Executive Director of the Keystone Community Education Council.
This study aimed to correct that by making recommendations of sites that are prime locations for industries including plastic compounders and converters, plastic manufacturers, and plastic wholesalers and distributors. These recommendations were made so that communities can engage with these locations to prepare them for this opportunity.
A list of development “hotspots” was established to help counties focus their attention on areas with potential. Hot spots were identified based on a variety of different factors including proximity to the railway/interstate, high-speed internet access, and the reliability of local infrastructure.
Two hot spots were identified in Clarion and Venango Counties.
Information on specific site locations has not been released; however, it is expected to be revealed to local GIS (Geographic Information System) officials within the coming months.
“We are not here to tell you which specific site offers the most promise. What we were able to do was to identify what we call hot spots,” explained Jim Damicis, Senior Vice President at Camoin 310.
“You’re a manufacturing region, you have a history of manufacturing. There are a lot of opportunities that are available,” said Damicis.
He added that working together on efforts to market and bring industries into an area can often be challenging.
“It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to say once it gets down to the level of ‘why’s there not one in my community but there’s one in that person’s community,’ all the fun is over.”
The producers of this study made an online tool that enables the user to identify the details of every hot spot including what types of utilities are available there and who currently owns the land. This is designed to help counties and municipalities better market the area to these industries.
The study also identifies the need to identify and prepare physical sites, attract and retain investment, and build organizational capacity.
The study made no mention of alleged environmental risks posed by facilities of this nature, leaving it up to municipalities to decide what to do with the findings.
The tools created by the study will soon be available to local entities as they try to bring petrochemical and plastic producing industries into the region.
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