Wharton: Local Economy on Upswing

Ohio County Commissioner Randy Wharton sees signs of the economy improving, thanks to renewed interest in The Highlands from corporations.

During a Wheeling Lions Club meeting Wednesday at WesBanco Arena, Wharton talked about some of the latest businesses to locate to the site, including the new Hampton Inn & Suites, which is slated to open at 4 p.m. today. Another example, he said, is the Highmark insurance office that relocated from Center Wheeling. And the Silgan Plastics warehouse opened last year in the light industry section of the development.

As an example of renewed interest, he said there currently are three restaurant chains wanting to open eateries at the site, though he could not yet disclose their names.

”The business climate in this area has really improved. … We have two national restaurant chains and one regional chain actually jockeying and fighting over a couple lots we have,” Wharton said. ”Before we couldn’t even get them to talk to us, now they’re ready to go. As of last night, the word was the first one with money in gets it. That’s exciting. That tells you the economy is getting better and there is interest.”

Wharton noted the Ohio County Development Authority’s finances are stable and it has ”good cash flow.”

”My hope is at some point … the development up there can be a stabilizing effect in the county to where even at some point help subsidize certain things in the county, which would keep us from ever having to raise taxes on anybody,” he said.