ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Chesapeake Energy - a leader on the resurging natural gas industry - will soon be setting up a new home base in Belmont County.
During Wednesday's meeting of the Belmont County Commissioners, Sue Douglass - executive director of the Belmont County Community Improvement Corporation/Department of Development - announced that Chesapeake will be purchasing several lots in Fox Commerce Park west of St. Clairsville.
The 28-acre piece of land will be the largest single purchase of property by a business in Fox Commerce Park. Chesapeake will be constructing a new business office at the location, officials said.
"Oil and gas are going to play a critical part with future development in Belmont County," said Douglass. "Chesapeake is a large corporation based out of state. It took a while for this agreement to be finalized, and we appreciate the due diligence by the company to establish a base of operations here in Belmont County."
Douglass said the new development for Chesapeake will be located at the front of Fox Commerce Park.
"It will signify their corporate presence here," she said.
Chesapeake has been on the front line of the recent boom in natural gas drilling, which is expected to continue in the area for the next several years. New technology has allowed companies to drill into the Marcellus and Utica shale deep beneath the surface of the region and use hydraulic "fracking" to release natural gas which is abundantly present in the shale.
Douglass introduced Charlie Boggs, project manager for the development of the Chesapeake offices at Fox Commerce Park.
"We're really looking forward to having a presence in Belmont County," said Boggs, who is based out of Chesapeake's Charleston, W.Va. Office. "People will see - as work progresses - that this venture will be good for both Belmont County and for Chesapeake."
The Belmont County CIC/DOD handles the marketing and sale of properties in the county's Fox Commerce Park. Wednesday's announcement coincided with the signing of the general warranty deed for the transfer of seven lots in Fox Commerce Park from the county to the CIC. It is the initial step toward the final sale of the property to Chesapeake Energy.
This latest transaction for property in Fox Commerce Park will be for the 12th business that will be operating at the site. There are nine existing businesses there, including FedEx Freight East, Sew Biz, Ohio Heat Transfer, ResCare/Care Properties, Mack's Gypsum, Tim's Custom Installation, Pivotal Propane, i2i Mobile Marketing and Tomorrow's Corner. New facilities for Underground Service and Supply, and Bill's Towing are being constructed.
Douglass said the CIC is pleased to bring Chesapeake into the mix at Fox Commerce Park, where "homegrown businesses" that are expanding blend together with neighboring businesses that have a national or even global name.
"There's such a diversity of businesses there," said Douglass. "Fox Commerce Park gives a snapshot picture of economic development that is proceeding in Belmont County."
Commissioners said they were thrilled to see Chesapeake Energy's project in Belmont County moving forward and noted that they looked forward to working with the company as they develop the new site and expand their operations into the area.
Details about the specific number of jobs that will be housed in the new facility and timeline of construction are expected to be released by the company in the coming months.
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