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Article Originally Published: | May 29, 2023 | Craig Howell

WEIRTON — The construction of Form Energy’s first full-scale manufacturing facility will be a key component to the redevelopment of Weirton’s north end, according to officials with the Frontier Group of Companies which has been working to prepare the property over the last several years.

“We’re definitely excited about it,” said David Franjoine, CEO of the Frontier Group of Companies, while attending the ceremonial groundbreaking for Form Factory 1 in Weirton Friday. “We’ve had great partners from the start.”

Form Factory 1 is now under construction on 55 acres within the Frontier Crossing development, which includes several hundred acres of property once used by the former Weirton Steel Corp. for its steel-making processes.

The facility, once complete, will manufacture a new iron-air battery capable of storing 100 hours of electricity. The company anticipates the creation of at least 750 jobs.

Franjoine said the company’s decision to come to Weirton, selecting the site out of 500 locations across 16 states, will serve as a major building block for the future of the city and its people, spurring the creation of new jobs and investment.

“It means a lot to us, but it will mean a lot to the community for years to come,” he said.

Another component will be the construction of the planned industrial access road, set to reach from a point near the Cove Road and Weir Avenue intersection, stretching north and then west to Brown’s Island and then also providing a new connection from the island to Ohio Route 7.

“That bypass will definitely enhance that,” he said of the ongoing development efforts.

The Frontier Group of Companies has invested almost $100 million into the 1,100 acres of property as part of its redevelopment efforts.

Del. Mark Zatezalo, R-Hancock, who also was in attendance at the Form Energy groundbreaking, sees the continued potential with the property.

“This is just the start,” Zatezalo said, noting the planned road will provide improved access to 850 acres of the site.

The Frontier Group of Companies first purchased the property in February 2017, focusing on the demolition of various pieces of unused structures, including the former basic oxygen plant, and the creation of the Weirton Area Reuse Plan in cooperation with the City of Weirton, the Thrasher Group, the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, the City of Weirton and the West Virginia Brownfield Assistance Center. The efforts also assisted with the opening of Bidell Gas Compression’s facility in Weirton.