We hope you and your family had an enjoyable holiday season. The new year is a time to reflect and project. This monthly Black Diamond Realty newsletter reflects on 2017 while providing our projections pertaining to north central West Virginia’s economic activity in 2018.
It was a record breaking year for Black Diamond and many other companies in north central WV. While north central WV remains consistently vibrant, the tides are slowly turning for the state as a whole, and WV’s entire economic fleet appears to be heading toward brighter days. Several critical sectors led the charge with positive economic announcements in 2017.
Energy was the cream that rose to the top. Several large pipeline projects are at various stages of construction with the finish line inching closer. Pipelines open up regional, metropolitan markets to WV’s gas production. A cracker plant is under construction in Beaver County, PA with rumors of potentially two additional crackers being built in OH and WV (Parkersburg area). Crackers dissect elements of natural gas into various chemicals which should result in a manufacturing expansion for companies who want to be near critical elements of their production process. Pipelines and crackers are creating a newfound buzz for the energy sector. Black Diamond can testify to the energy sector’s expansion in 2017: Industrial sector leads paced other sectors with a total of 133 unique leads. Black Diamond closed 13 deals with energy related entities.
The buzz does not stop at our state or even national borders. China Energy Investment Corp signed a memorandum of understanding with WV leadership to invest $83.7 billion over 20 years in various energy related ventures. Power plants are one potential investment angle. Two gas fired power plants are at varying phases of approval to be constructed in the region. One is in Harrison County. Click here to learn more: http://harrisoncountypower.com/ Oil and gas activity is energizing our regional economy by bringing high paying jobs to our market. The money from these jobs is spent on housing (hotels, apartments), food (grocery stores, restaurants) and entertainment.
Infrastructure has been a hot topic in West Virginia for many decades. Band-aids have been our state’s application of choice. However, 2017 brought a different style of leadership aimed at changing WV’s story. Governor Justice and his team formulated a plan to use future promised tax dollars to secure ~$3 billion worth of funds to complete road infrastructure improvement projects. Our roads have already benefitted from the Roads to Prosperity Amendment and should improve further over the next decade. Infrastructure is a critical variable for many sectors considering economic expansion.
Since accepting his role as WVU’s 24th President, Dr. E. Gordon Gee has been focused on expanding the university’s outreach while maintaining its mission of supporting prosperity for the mountain state. WVU Medicine has been aggressively expanding with 2017 announcements that include a $150 million, 10-story children’s and women’s tower on WVU Medicine’s main campus, a $12 million inpatient residential drug treatment facility near Mylan Park (Morgantown), plus it opened a $13.9 million, 25,000 square foot new outpatient facility in Fairmont, WV. Mon General Hospital is also in expansion mode. North central WV should welcome this “medical arms race” as it directly results in a higher quality of life via greater healthcare access, plus economic benefits, including high paying jobs.
So, what do we have to look forward to in 2018? The energy sector will carry 2017’s momentum into the new year and we will begin to see the fruits of the road bond’s labor as construction projects start. with the additional expansion by WVU Medicine and two prominent interstate developments (White Oaks Business Park in Bridgeport and West Ridge in Morgantown), north central WV will see significant growth with many positive announcements. As the aforementioned economic drivers come to fruition, other areas in the state are also poised for growth. Also, since businesses will have greater discretionary capital to put to work under Trump’s new tax plan, look for businesses to be more aggressive with expansion efforts and hiring practices.
Best wishes for a joyous and prosperous 2018!