Governor Tom Corbett is pushing for a new petrochemical plant to be built in Pennsylvania, which he and his supporters say would create more than 10,000 construction jobs immediately, and later create up to 20,000 full-time positions in the energy and manufacturing industries.
"The benefits of employing up to 20,000 Pennsylvanians and lowering the raw materials cost for Pennsylvania manufacturers far outweigh the investment,'' said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker. "It's not about politics; it's about jobs. It's about real people who rely on those jobs to pay their bills, feed their families and invest for retirement.''
A new petrochemical establishment would result in a new ethane cracker that would transform "wet" Marcellus natural gas into ethylene, one of the base products for several petrochemicals. Once it is derived, ethylene can be used to make several other chemicals used in various products, including bottles, food packaging, toys, house siding, pipes, tires, diapers, detergent and many others.
"An ethane cracker plant means jobs for Beaver County, for this region, and for the state of Pennsylvania,'' said Secretary of Labor and Industry Julia Hearthway.
The American Chemistry Council stated the new production center will create some 10,000 construction jobs, increase energy staffing in the area by 400 jobs and add another 17,000 jobs in related operations that will move to the area to capitalize on the plant's production.
Pennsylvania is currently the first choice for the petrochemical complex. If chosen, it will become the first such center in Northeast America, and will attract huge investments from manufacturers across the country.
"If we passively stand by and do nothing, we will not only lose the Shell project but also lose our ability to grow the manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania,'' Department of Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser said. "This project and others could end up in Ohio, West Virginia or in the Gulf Coast, where 26 of the nation's 29 crackers are located.''
Construction staffing could certainly use the 10,000 jobs the center would create, after the sector's unemployment saw some of the sharpest declines of any in the U.S. in May. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry lost about 28,000 jobs in May.