ALIQUIPPA (KDKA) — Where once stood a steel mill is now a slag field, but hopes are that the 300-acre site will soon hold a sprawling, $3 billion to $3.5 billion petrochemical operation called a cracker.
“This is something we’ve been looking for since the steel mills went away in the early-to-mid-80s and this would definitely be a shot in the arm,” said State Senator Elder Vogel, R-Rochester.
The cracker takes the byproducts of shale gas and “cracks” the molecules to make plastics.
Shell Oil says it will come with as many 10,000 construction jobs, more than a thousand permanent ones and 7,000 or 8,000 spin-offs. Three states are pulling out all stops to get them.
“We are working very hard behind the scenes,” Governor Tom Corbett said. “We have put together a very good package and I am very hopeful that we will be successful.”
Recently passed and signed legislation makes the site an enterprise zone with 15 to 20 years in tax abatements.
To sweeten the pot, the state just this week approved a half million dollars in railroad improvements which along with the river transportation is seen as essential.
But since the other two states can match or better that offer, officials are pinning their hopes on the site’s proximity to our universities, international airport and Pittsburgh’s sport venues and cultural amenities.
“We have the culture,” Charles Drevna of the National Petrochemical Association said. “People want to come here. They want to be able to do things.”
A decision by Shell could come at any time and an announcement is expected within the next several weeks, so we should know very soon whether Beaver County and southwestern Pennsylvania will be the home of a whole new industry, bringing thousands and thousands of jobs.