Wednesday’s news that PTT Global Chemical was forced to pay back $20 million to Ohio’s private economic development office hit our region, as the company has spent the past six years working on a ‘a petrochemical plant in Belmont County, near Dilles Bottom. . The $20 million is reimbursement to JobsOhio for PTT’s failure to make an investment decision in 2020.
Since 2015, we were led to believe that PTT was going to build a factory in Dilles Bottom. Houses were demolished to accommodate the planned installation. PTT says it is still committed to the project, but the repayment of such a large sum is telling.
“Coming out of the pandemic, we are currently in a chaotic economy thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These economic headwinds have made it harder to identify a partner,” the spokesperson said. of PTT, Dan Williamson, noting that the company has already invested $300 million in the site.
Officials have talked a lot about a “renaissance” in manufacturing here in the Ohio Valley. There is nostalgia for the kinds of jobs that largely abandoned our region decades ago. And every time we are promised that such jobs could come back, we get carried away.
“They can’t find a partner because of market conditions,” Ohio Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted said. “They are the ones who made the promise of what they are going to do. …”
PTT remains committed to the project, and JobsOhio and its partners continue to work closely with the company to bring the project to a “positive final investment decision,” JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart said.
It is clear that verbal gymnastics is performed with the use of the phrase “positive final investment decision”.
Husted is more realistic.
“The last thing I’m going to do is create false hope. The people of Appalachia were promised a lot of things that the companies never delivered,” Husted said.
Time and again, the people of the Ohio Valley saw that our industrial past would never return to the level of 50 years ago, when tens of thousands of families were supported by heavy industrial jobs. . While these jobs are welcome, it’s time for public officials to seek out employers and investors willing to move our region forward, with new ideas and new jobs.
As they say, you have to stop looking only in the rear view mirror and hope for a return to the past.
We’re just not going in that direction.