Firms Would Receive Incentives for Building Ethane Cracker in Belmont County

SHADYSIDE – Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas said real estate taxpayers in the Shadyside Local School District will get their say regarding incentives that could be part of attracting the $5.7 billion ethane cracker project to the R.E. Burger plant site.

On Thursday, Thomas and Shadyside Local Schools Superintendent John Haswell reacted to reports that Jobs-Ohio, the state’s private economic development corporation, offered a “aggressive incentive package” to Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical and Tokyo’s Marubeni Corp. According to the report, such stimuli could include local tax credits, along with state-level incentives for job creation, workforce development and infrastructure improvements.

“Any economic development transaction of this size will have economic incentives of this type. Belmont County has been asked to look at incentives – real estate taxes,” Thomas said, adding approximately 65 percent of this property tax revenue goes toward funding local schools. “We will work with the Shadyside Local School District to make sure they are compensated fairly.”

Haswell said he and school board members met to discuss the matter on a few occasions, but have yet to make any agreements.

“We have not officially been approached about giving any kind of an abatement,” he said. “I would have to be notified and the board would have to approve it.”

If constructed, the cracker complex would utilize ethane extracted from the region’s Marcellus and Utica shale formations. The facility would then crack the ethane into ethylene, which is used as a basis for plastics and resins contained in items such as food packaging, textiles and pharmaceuticals.

Thomas said the project could be the largest individual economic development in the history of Ohio.

“The state of Ohio has been driving the negotiations with the company,” he said. “The size and the scope of the project has to include state incentives. With the competition that we face, we had to offer those incentives.”

JobsOhio is a private agency created by Gov. John Kasich in 2011 to drive economic development in the state. Spokesman Matt Englehart said the firm will announce the incentives given to the Asian firms once a final agreement is reached.

“The state releases incentives once a project goes through the appropriate approval body,” he said. “Again, the project is ongoing.”

“We feel very, very confident they will say they are going to build the plant,” Thomas added of the decision the Asian companies are scheduled to make next year.