A number of business owners in the West Virginia town of Buckhannon say they’re seeing business and community growth as a result of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.
“The vibrancy of any community is dependent on attracting people from somewhere else into your community,” says C.J. Rylands, owner of C.J. Maggie’s, a restaurant on Main Street in downtown Buckhannon.
“There’s only 5,700 people in this city and 23,000 in the county,” Rylands says. He sees the pipeline as creating positive change in the Upshur County community.
“It’s restored hope in this town,” agrees Patrick Martin, owner of BM Properties, who has seen property rentals increase because of the pipeline project.
“Over the last few years West Virginia has seen a population decline,” Martin says, adding that he hopes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will bring people to the Mountain State to not only work, but to live.
Martin’s brother, Robbie Martin, owns the Bicentennial Inn and 88 Restaurant and Lounge. Before the coming of the pipeline with its accompanying workers and spinoff growth, he says he had an average occupancy rate of about 10 percent.
“Now we’re averaging 95 percent,” Robbie Martin says. “For the restaurant I’ve seen over a 30 percent increase.
“It’s not just my business,” he continues. “It’s a lot of businesses in town.”
The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline will run from northern West Virginia, through Virginia and into North Carolina, to provide new, lower-cost supplies of natural gas to generate cleaner electricity, heat the homes of a growing population and power new industries like manufacturing. Current pipeline infrastructure serving the region is fully tapped and unable to keep up with consumer demand. Businesses have seen their service shut off on the coldest winter days and new industries have chosen other locations because this region’s pipeline infrastructure is too constrained.
The project is expected to create more than 17,000 construction jobs, 2,200 new jobs in manufacturing and industry and generate $28 million a year in new tax revenue for communities along the route.
Martin says the pipeline is creating direct construction jobs, but is also creating indirect employment as local businesses hire extra people to serve those associated with the pipeline project.
“There will be so much more business to come in the future because of this pipeline,” Martin says.
Casey Earl, owner of a small clothing embroidery business, says he owes his success directly to Dominion Energy.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline coming through has actually made my business,” he says.
Almost immediately upon moving into the area, Dominion placed a large order for embroidered hats and other items with Earl’s shop. The work proved a huge boon to his business.
“I was able to order another embroidery machine, so I’ll be able to double the speed with which I turn around large orders,” Earl says.
“This has meant everything to me,” he says.