Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?  The oft debated conundrum might well apply to the economic development mix in Hancock County.

The influx of workers, permanent and temporary construction workers to the new industries locating here will need housing.  Will they seek out a home before the decision is made to relocate……or will they accept the job and then look for a home?

Regardless, the pickings are slim at the moment.   President of the Weirton Area Real Estate Association Tony Viola, says inventory in Hancock and Brooke counties is low with only 74 houses on the market with a range of $15,000.00 to $1.8 million.  Viola said most buyers are looking for t a price point of $120,000.00\

Despite the COVID pandemic, Viola said the real estate never slowed in West Virginia.  While the Governor of Pennsylvania shut down realtors,

for the NUCOR trans loader facility just south of Mountaineer racetrack, but a timetable has yet to be released for it. Governor Justice declared real estate an essential business.

Viola said that prices have increased since the pandemic.  Four years ago, a house that would have sold for $98,000.00 is now on the market for $140,000.00

Viola said the most requested location for buyers right now seems to be the Chester/Veterans Blvd. area.   While there have been some new builds in the area, land is at a premium, most especially land with city water and sewage.

The local economic development officials are aware of the challenges now and in the future.  Anthony  Clements, co-.executive director of the Business Development Corporation, said the area has many advantages because it’s close to the airport.   has a low cost of living and taxes are low.  He said he recently received a call from Vermont inquiring about relocating here.   

Anthony said the popularity of patio homes makes them a very viable option.  To date, James Court is the only one to be developed.  A housing development similar to the one in Noblestown, Developed by Ryan Homes would be a welome addition.

FORM Energy has already begun hiring for Form1 according to Sarah Bray, director of Communications for Form.  While the plant, when running at full capacity will employ upwards of 750 a definite timeline has not been set.  Also coming in the future is the construction of the hydroelectric plant in New Cumberland.  While the plan will employ 8 to 10 workers when complete, will require 150-200 construction workers.  The land has been acquired

Preparing for the workers has already begun in New Cumberland.   The City has torn down several delipidated structures and other older structures are being rehabbed to today’s standards The former Phillips brown brick office and apartment building on Chester Street is being renovated.   According to sources the building will feature offices, including a barber shop, on the first floor and four apartments on the second. The Cottrills have also bought the old Wickes Restaurant and are said to plan to open a restaurant once the work is complete.

The old New Cumberland school, formerly the municipal building. has been purchased.  City Clerk Tammy Jenkins said the new owners who are from Miami will retain all the tenants and have said that the new Cumberland museum and food and clothes closet may also remain in the building.

What happens if the workers come and cannot find homes to their specification?  Those realtors and development professionals with whom I talked said they will turn to the adjacent states of Pennsylvania and Ohio despite higher taxes.   If that happens Hancock County and West Virginia not only lose out on tax dollars but fail capture the revenue associated with where you live.

In the coming months professionals will seek to grow the housing market.  Viola noted that he has seen a bidding war for a home locally and for those contemplating selling their home, “It’s a seller’s market!”