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Importance of construction trades to economic development highlighted at Morgantown (West Virginia) conference

By Charles Young, WV News

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — When a new project or investment is announced in West Virginia, the first to feel its positive economic impacts are the state’s construction workers, laborers and craftspersons.

This reality was emphasized Tuesday during the West Virginia Building and Construction Conference in Morgantown, highlighting the integral role these trades play in a vast array of sectors, including energy, health care and infrastructure.

“We’re here to talk about potential construction projects across West Virginia, and that covers traditional infrastructure, health care infrastructure and energy projects of all types,” said Justin Williams, director of Affiliated Construction Trades of West Virginia. “We just want everyone to build connections so those projects can be successful, so workers can be successful, so our communities can be successful and West Virginia can be successful.”

The event’s keynote address was delivered by Morgan O’Brien, CEO of Hope Gas.

O’Brien discussed the company’s pipeline project, which is planned to span about 30 miles from western Monongalia County to northern Marion County.

“West Virginia is rich in natural gas, but there’s one pipeline that feeds Morgantown,” he said. “We came up with an idea that we build that (additional) pipeline, using the people in this room’s labor.”

The project represents the first “mid-stream” pipeline project in the company’s history, O’Brien said.

“We convinced the (West Virginia Public Service Commission), and political people in this state how important this was,” he said. “There was a process that could have taken over a year for them to review these types of projects. We got it done in three months.”

An approval that fast would be a near impossibility in other states in which he’s worked, O’Brien said.

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