Shell Polymers plant has hurt Beaver County economic growth, study finds

A new study, conducted by the Ohio River Valley Institute, found the Shell Polymers plant in Monaca, Beaver County has not quite provided the economic boom that many expected.

While the plant employs around 600 people, researchers say its presence has actually cost the county jobs and economic growth.

Researchers used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2012-2022 to draw that conclusion.

“What this does is kind of pull the curtain back and say, ‘What’s behind the curtain?’ It’s actually a terrible deal for your local economy,” said lead researcher Eric de Place.

According to de Place, Beaver County has seen a decline in GDP, and a slower rebound from the pandemic, despite the state and country seeing the opposite.

“It looks a lot like Shell took Pennsylvania for a ride and got away with some huge tax subsidies without delivering any real growth at all in Beaver County,” de Place said.

Those tax subsidies from the state, according to de Place, totaled $1.6 billion, helping Shell build the 386-acre cracker plant.

But since the project was announced in 2012, de Place says Beaver County has lost jobs and businesses.

“What’s happening is not that the Shell plant has induced a lot of economic growth and activity, but, if anything, it seems to have sent people running out of Beaver County,” said de Place.

This new report refutes a Shell-commissioned study published by Robert Morris University in July of 2021, claiming the plant will generate nearly $3.7 billion annually in statewide economic activity.

Shell spokesperson Curtis Thomas pointed to that RMU report when asked about this latest finding.

In a statement he said, in part, “The most interesting stat is that Shell’s presence is expected to generate over $80 billion in revenue over 40 years.  So if we’re tying Shell’s presence to an outlook, we should look at a report that actually focuses on the effects Shell will have, as opposed to a report that takes into consideration a myriad of other factors, and then try to tie those results to Shell.”

If you’d like to check out the full Ohio River Valley Institute report, click here:

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