SOUTHPOINTE (KDKA) — One of the country’s largest independent natural gas drilling companies broke ground Wednesday on a new facility in Washington County.

The new Range Resources complex promises to be one of the area’s largest commercial construction projects in recent years.

Flanked by state representatives and Washington County commissioners, officials from Range Resources dug in their ceremonial golden shovels.

“I want to say thanks. It’s a really, really great occasion for Range Resources. I think it will be great for the county and Southpointe,” Ray Walker, senior vice president of Range Resources, said at the groundbreaking.

The new facility will be a five-story, 180,000 square foot property at Southpointe II.

Sitting on 13 acres, it is one of the largest local commercial construction projects in recent history.

“We have a great team that worked behind the scenes to get these projects done,” Rod Piatt, president of Horizon Properties, said. “But let me say that these projects, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and for these projects to come out of the ground and be what they are, it takes a lot of hard work from a lot of people.”

The building will eventually house 500 employees. In addition to office space, it will have a bistro and auditorium.

Range Resources says that when they drilled their first well in the county four years ago, they did not expect such success.

“We started realizing that there might be a little bit of activity that we could do. We really thought it was just one little area right around Hickory,” Walker said.

Since then, wells have popped up all over Pennsylvania, and with 300 and counting, Washington County has the most in the entire state.

Range Resources expects to be here for years to come.

“We sincerely think that there’ll be, you know, 1,000 Range employees in the state of Pennsylvania in not too many years. Of course, if we keep could weather like this, we burn lots of natural gas, and we’ll get it a lot faster,” Walker said.

The new building is scheduled to be finished in November of next year. It will be LEED certified.

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