The mission of the Chemical Alliance Zone is to create and maintain jobs. "We attract new chemical and related firms, we support current manufacturing with programs like workforce development initiatives, and we represent the chemical industry to groups like yours," DiGregorio said.
The zone partners with others in everything it does, he said. It played a role in Kureha Corp.'s decision to locate a specialty plastics plant in Belle, helped Progenesis, a Huntington startup, and assisted the Governor's Office in transitioning the ownership of the West Virginia Regional Technology Park from The Dow Chemical Co. to the state.
"The tech park is the key element" in the area's economic development because "you have facilities there, labs and pilot plants, that you can't easily find elsewhere," DiGregorio said. "We saved 550 jobs when we (the state) got the tech park and we have the potential for growth there in the future."
DiGregorio believes the area will attract one or more ethane crackers. Each would represent an investment of $500 million to $4 billion. "It would be an economic development grand-slam for West Virginia," he said. "We need to have a long-term view. Shale gas (some of which is rich in methane) will be around 20 to 30 years. We could have an announcement in six months. We could have an announcement in five years. And we could have announcements both in six months and in five years.
"We still have companies looking," he said. "We came close to having a couple of announcements two years ago."
Committee member Rick Atkinson said he has a friend who is familiar with the location in western Pennsylvania where Shell announced last year it wants to build a cracker. "He told me nothing is happening there," Atkinson said.
DiGregorio said some companies like to announce their intent before they do a lot of homework and other companies like to complete all of their due diligence work before making an announcement.
"When Shell announced, there were other companies much further down the road with their due diligence," he said.
During the meeting Bob Anderson, South Charleston's business recruiter, said:
* Television characters SpongeBob and Big Bird will appear in the Armed Forces Day Parade on May 18 and the Liverpool Legends, a Beetles tribute band, will perform during Summerfest in August.
* Ayerson Financial Group and Advantage Home & Environmental Inspections have opened offices on the corner of Third Avenue and E Street.
* "Hairs to You" Salon has opened on Third Avenue.
* Damous Psychological Services is expanding its building and parking lot on the corner of Third Avenue and D Street.
* The city has asked South Charleston hotels to show a video promoting the city on one of the television channels guests receive in their rooms.
"We have approximately 80,000 people staying in the hotels annually," Anderson said. "This would create a tremendous amount of business for our city and surrounding areas."Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.