Last Updated on December 2, 2023 at 1:14pm
Norfolk Southern helped to convene an economic development roundtable at the American Legion Hall in East Palestine on Thursday, bringing together village leaders and local and state officials, as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Recovery Coordinator Jim McPherson and Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw for a discussion focused on economic recovery in the region.
“I said from the beginning that Norfolk Southern would be here for the long haul and we will be here to see this community through. Norfolk Southern will continue to provide assistance, its resources and its economic development arm to help East Palestine,” Shaw told attendees. “Folks here are ready to take their energy and put it toward a positive direction.”
The dialogue was led by Ohio-based economic development firm Bricker Graydon, which was hired by the village to create an economic development plan for East Palestine, using grant funding provided by Norfolk Southern.
Bricker Graydon representatives gave an overview of their assessment of the current state of the village’s economy and their initial recommendations for how to proceed with revitalization. The aim, they said, is not just to fully recover from the train derailment, but also to tackle some of the economic challenges the region faced long before Feb. 3.
Other roundtable participants included representatives from the Columbiana County Port Authority, JobsOhio, Team NEO, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The group is expected to reunite in early 2024, along with local businesses, to continue the discussion. In January, the team will issue an executive summary outlining the work needed.
“People want to continue to live here,” Shaw said. “People want to continue to raise their families here and make their living here. There is a lot of pride among the citizens of this village and we want to help support that and cultivate that.”