After eight years of up and down business, Ed Vescovi is hoping the best is yet to come for the dormant biodiesel plant he oversees on the banks of the Ohio River in Beaver County.
There are plans to revive the site with as many as 85 new workers, including a new river dock and wastewater treatment plant for Marcellus shale gas drillers. The ultimate bet is even bigger, that a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant Royal Dutch Shell plc may build just down the road could help turn the largely wooded and hilly site in Potter into a booming industrial park.
“I’ve got a lot of time in here, so I’m very interested in getting this running. It’s a shame to see all these millions sitting here being wasted,” Vescovi said. “It’s a great opportunity. If Shell comes in, it’s an added bonus.”
The chance at that bonus — to get an early position on spin-off business from what would be a largely new industry in Western Pennsylvania — was a big motivator for the site’s new owner, Weavertown Transport Leasing Inc., CEO Dawn Fuchs said. It paid more than $2 million to buy the 125 acres in October, she said, declining to cite exact figures.
All around Beaver County leaders are seeing a similar push: Industrial parks are beefing up, engineering companies are moving in, and new offices, hotels and housing are on the way. While many Pittsburgh businesses are still hanging back until Shell decides, it’s clear that some are already moving fast to try and make it big.