Coalition sees economic, industrial value of pipeline

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Last week, more than 100 businesses, labor organizations and other groups in three Mid-Atlantic states came together to create EnergySure, a coalition that supports the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The alliance represents millions of employees and associates in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, including the Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce and Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc.

“As part of [EnergySure], we join our regional partners to expand the conversation on how to secure clean, affordable energy for the future,” said Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Teresa Beale. “Having the ability to utilize natural gas would give our community a distinct advantage in recruiting businesses. The proximity to this resource would make us more competitive when attracting investors and jobs to the Franklin-Southampton region.”

Amanda Jarratt, president at CEO of Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc., echoed Beale’s sentiments.

“We are charged with marketing the Franklin-Southampton region to new business and industry and providing support to our existing industries, and one thing we need to successfully do that is [have] better access to reliable, reasonably-priced supplies of natural gas,” she said. “As we noted in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last September, our ability to recruit new businesses, especially manufacturing, is severely handicapped by our lack of access to the fuel.

“All that will change, we believe, with construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline … This greatly improved access to natural gas will put us in a much better position to compete successfully on a national — and even a global — scale for new industrial and manufacturing operations.”

The 550-mile, $5 billion pipeline project would deliver natural gas from wells in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It is expected to generate significant economic benefits across the region, including more than 17,000 jobs, $2.7 billion in economic activity and $4.2 million in average annual local tax revenue during construction. In Virginia alone, construction will support 8,800 jobs and result in $1.4 billion in economic activity.

“Reliable, secure and affordable supplies of this efficient and environmentally friendly fuel are a basic requirement for modern industry and a critical factor in siting decisions,” Jarratt added. “Attracting new businesses to our localities is important, but so is promoting a secure energy future for the business and people who already call Franklin and Southampton home. The pipeline will help all of them by holding down energy prices and ensuring reliable natural gas service is there when they need it.”