Economic development projects can take years to reach fruition. It can look for those years like very little is taking place and then comes an announcement of a major commercial or industrial facility that appears to be an overnight sensation for an area.
Those who work in the economic development field know that it's a long game and the work is often done plodding and in the background.
It's with that in mind that the latest in a series of grants for the old TS&T pottery site at Chester is a big deal that could someday play a role in one of those "overnight" sensational announcements.
The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle has been working hard to get the site ready for marketing for re-use, and a $70,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week is part of that effort. The money will be used for an assessment of environmental hazards along the site's riverbank.
Pat Ford, the BDC executive, said there are prospects inquiring about using the riverfront at the site.
The grant process was a competitive one and the money for the work was available only on a limited basis for special projects. The BDC was able to demonstrate the potential for tangible results from developing the "shovel ready" brownfield. A similar attempt was unsuccessful a year ago.
Such steps are important ones because re-use of a site often hinges on the next user being able to get financing for projects, which is dependent on the sites being given a clean bill of health.
Taylor, Smith & Taylor was closed by Anchor Hocking in 1981. The BDC was able to buy the property in 2011 for $135,000 and begin raising funds to demolish the old pottery and related buildings and get rid of hazardous materials. The marketing efforts have been ongoing since late 2012.
The grant will pay for work that helps determine what the next steps will be to clean the riverbank portion of the site. At that point, more U.S. EPA grants will be sought to perform the actual cleanup.
So, the $70,000 is but a step in a long process, but a necessary one. We congratulate the BDC for continuing to pursue the project with a long-term eye on the site's potential.