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Cracker Plant News Gratifying

Area residents were minded last week that there will be life — and, in all probability, prosperity for many — after the coronavirus.

News from local officials was very good, in two ways.

First, it was revealed that three local government entities will be receiving enormous amounts of revenue from PTT Global Chemical America and Daelim Chemical USA. The two companies are partners in the proposed ethane cracker plant that has been in the works for several years.

Creation of an Ohio Enterprise Zone covering the area where the plant is to be built, near the Ohio River in southeastern Belmont County, exempts the two companies from paying property taxes for 15 years. In exchange, the firms have pledged to make big payments to Mead Township, the Belmont County Commission and the Shadyside Board of Education.

How big? Thirty-eight million dollars to the school district, over 15 years. Between $20 million and $24 million in sales tax revenue for the county. Another $9.5 million to Mead Township, also over a 15-year period.

As county Auditor Anthony Rocchio noted, had property taxes been levied, the amount would have been “not nearly as high as what people think it is. It appears the amounts to be paid out are significantly higher than what the three local government entities would have received in property taxes.

This is wonderful news — but a comment made by Scott Owens, senior project adviser for the two companies, is even better. Noting that $200 million has been spent already to prepare a site for the cracker plant, he said last week that, “If we wanted to start construction this afternoon, or start development tomorrow, we can do that.”

Neither company has formally committed to build the plant. It certainly seems that all is missing is signatures on the dotted line, however.

That is wonderful news. It could not have come at a better time — with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of area residents wondering about the economic future. The sooner the icing can be put on the cake, the better.

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