West Virginia Department of Commerce West Virginia Knows Chemicals

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West Virginia Knows Chemicals

WV Knows Chemicals

Kevin DiGregorio rattles off the state’s advantages by heart: “West Virginia has a great, traditional workforce of more than 12,500 chemical workers. After coal, chemicals are our state’s second-largest export. We have some of the top chemical companies in the world: Dow, DuPont, Bayer, PPG and SABIC. We have great sites. We’re within 500 miles of half the U.S. population and major markets… “Beyond all that, West Virginia knows chemicals.”

Kureha PGA polymer facilities within DuPont’s Belle, W.Va., plant. Co-location allows chemical plants to come online more quickly

DiGregorio is the executive director of the nonprofit Chemical Alliance Zone (CAZ). To him, a small state is an advantage for new companies. Folks at all levels of government understand and work with the industry.

In recent years, CAZ, along with the West Virginia Development Office, has championed the strategy of co-location.

“We have several chemical plants around the state that have extra capacity and real estate to offer, including Bayer Crop Science’s Institute site, PPG Industries and Bayer’s plants in New Martinsville, Dow’s South Charleston facility or DuPont’s Belle plant. Existing infrastructure is a big selling point for a new chemical company coming into the market,” said DiGregorio.

In addition to public utilities, many of the co-location facilities offer new tenants access to wastewater treatment processes, safety and security systems and the opportunity to leverage existing air and water permits. Often, excellent transportation by rail, truck and barge is available on site, too.

“By offering a shared-site business model, companies are able to save considerable costs and time in starting production. Often they can access feedstock chemicals, too,” DiGregorio explained. He pointed to Kureha PGA LLC as a recent example.

Japan-based Kureha is a specialty plastics facility, expected to produce 8.8 million pounds (4,000 metric tons) of polyglycolic acid (PGA) each year. Marketed under the trade name Kuredux® PGA, the polymer’s properties include high strength, biodegradability and low gas permeability, ideal for food and beverage packaging. By co-locating on 3.5 acres of DuPont’s Belle, W.Va. site, Kureha easily obtains its primary feedstock from its host, the world’s largest glycolic acid plant.

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