Watch Belmont County in 2016

By Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth
CANFIELD, Ohio — This past year has been amazing for the Utica Shale in Ohio, as production of oil and gas in the state has more than doubled. At the end of 2014, Energy in Depth reported that the counties to watch in 2015 included Monroe, Belmont, and Noble counties – and we were right.

Production results for the first three quarters of 2015 showed Utica Shale development trended south to these counties, and the best producing wells, particularly natural gas wells, have been located in these counties. But as we look ahead to 2016, one of these counties, Belmont, is where the real story of promise will lie.

Why does Belmont County stand out among similar counties with high production? Well, it’s because Belmont County is by far the most diversified story in the Utica with a combination of surging production results, new permits to drill, proximity to roads, rail, and barges, and most importantly, a new multi-billion dollar ethane cracker. With all of these elements coming together, it’s fair to say that all eyes will be on Belmont County in 2016.

The port authority has been working hand-in-hand with Jobs Ohio, PTT Global Chemical Public Company LTd. and Marubeni Corp to secure the initial pledged investment of $100 million in engineering, which will determine the ultimate fate of the plant. If the project does indeed come to the region, it will be a facility on a scale the county has yet to see from other industries. As such, Merry said, “It’s just hard to fathom and a get a grasp of this project. I’m still not sure that I have my mind wrapped around it.”

With a site of nearly 500 acres along the Ohio River, including a 100-acre plant and a huge rail complex, it would be hard for anyone to wrap to their head around the sheer magnitude of the proposed $5.7 billion ethane cracker plant that would be built at the site of First Energy Corp’s former coal-fired Burger plant.

In 2010 the U.S. EPA forced the coal plant to shut down, taking with it needed jobs and tax revenue for the community and school district. The community was devastated, as unemployment stood at 13.8% following its closure. Five years later, thanks to shale development, this project would include completely removing the coal-fired plant and constructing a multi-billion dollar cracker, that that will be a “new promise for Belmont County” and bring thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs.

In many ways, you can already see that “new promise” underway in Belmont County, as retail businesses, hotels, restaurants, and even a brand new Starbucks has arrived just within the last two years. Shale development has transformed one of the most economically depressed areas in the Appalachia Region – Belmont, Marshall and Ohio counties – into the fifth fastest growing economy in the nation, according to new statistics by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Local small businesses have come back to life and revitalized their strategies to start new endeavors, such as MPR Supply Chain Solutions, a company that has emerged as a leader in supportive services to the oil and gas industry in Belmont County. That includes a state-of the art transloading facility on the Ohio River for sand used in hydraulic fracturing, and a host of other supportive services for the Marcellus and Utica Shale industries in the region.

Energy In Depth recently had an opportunity to tour this new facility. It was a vision that began several years ago when MPR Supply Chain Solutions decided to restructure and expand its business on the Ohio River in Belmont County to include an antiquated Belmont County Memorial USAR Center (Armory) that was adjacent to the MPR property. That site has since been sold by the government, generating revenue and a tax base. The substantial expansion has allowed the company to create more jobs for the region. Rick Frio, Chairman, MPR Transloading and Energy Services, explained the impact the oil and gas industry has already had on Belmont County, and the region as a whole:

“The arrival of the oil and gas industry to the Tri State Area is a literal life saver,” Frio said. “With our local steel mills closing and coal being under attack, we frankly would be in a deep recession in our valley without the blessing of Utica and Marcellus Shale jobs. This touches each of us in several ways. The industry brought desperately needed good jobs to provide for our families. These jobs give our work force the respect that they earn and give long term hope for our families and businesses in the region.”

But these projects, especially the proposed cracker facility, aren’t just impacting the local economy. There is no better example of the impact shale gas is having on global industries than the proposed facility. This project signals a trend in “shale economics” as more countries are looking to invest in the United States, bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. For example, PTT Global, a Thai company, will now be joined by two other European companies to move this project forward. This is evident from recent announcements that Switzerland-based INEOS Technologies and Technip SA of France will partner on the project to provide the science to support the manufacturing of polyethylene. Said PTT’s general manager, Panod Awaiwanond, “PTT Global Chemical is very excited by this project based on the U.S. Shale gas economics.”

All of this comes down to the fact that it has now become cheaper to produce ethylene and polyethylene in the United States, as a direct result of our abundant supply of domestically produced oil and natural gas. In fact, analysts have said it is two times cheaper to produce ethylene in the U.S. than in China. This trend is also impacting Saudi Arabia.

Low feedstock costs, have brought about an increased demand for ethane crackers closer to the source, which is now the Appalachian Basin.

So as we look forward to 2016, while Carroll County will continue to be a major player in the volume of Utica shale wells in Ohio, the real success story that will be making headlines is likely to come from farther south in Belmont County, where an intersection of core economically feasible acreage has resulted in tremendous natural gas production. Combine that with the easy access to roads, rail, and barges, and Belmont County becomes the ideal location on the Ohio River for real economic stimulus and long-term benefits for the community.

Without record-breaking natural gas production, Belmont County would simply not have realized the tremendous economic growth it has had in 2015 and it would not be in a position to look forward to a robust year ahead. While there has already been a tremendous positive impact to this region of Ohio, look for 2016 to be an even bigger year, as we watch this success story continue to unfold.

Pictured: The former First Energy plant in Belmont County selected for PTT Global’s proposed cracker plant project.

Editor’s Note: The author, Jackie Stewart, is affiliated with Energy in Depth, an industry advocacy organization.


Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.


2015 Holiday Party

Thank you to everyone who could attend our 2015 Company Holiday Party. It was a good thing we moved to a local gym because we had a GREAT turn out. The event featured Undo’s food, door prizes including an RCA 32″ TV / Nintendo 3DS / COACH Purse / 10″ Tablet and of course a visit from Santa with gift bags for all 30+ kids!

Merry Christmas and THANK YOU to all of our staff!

John Marshall Cleaning

Top-Notch Cleaning is thrilled to be working with Grae-Con Construction
to clean the entire John Marshall High School renovation.

Top-Notch is going BACK TO SCHOOL!

John Marshall

Top Notch Making News!

Local cleaning company continues to expand!

Austin Straub, president of Top Notch Cleaning, has finalized purchase of a building in Bridgeport which will serve as the new corporate headquarters.

The company has outgrown two location since it opened in 2012. The new location, at 887 National Road, is located directly to the west of the Dairy Queen.

“We have grown from two employees and one service vehicle to over 30 employees and eight service vehicles,” stated Straub. “And the new office will allow for a centralized location and much more growth for the company.”

Top Notch Cleaning specializes in home and business cleaning. In addition to hundred of regularly-serviced clients, Top Notch is quickly becoming a leader in post-construction clean-up. Annie Jochumsen, General Manager of Top Notch stated, “Our team has done commercial construction cleanings including banks, schools, gyms, restaurants and hospitals. We have completed jobs throughout the entire Ohio Valley to Pittsburgh.”

Straub went on to say that he greatly appreciated The Citizens Bank, who arranged financing for the building. “They have been with me from the start when all I had was a business plan. They worked with me as I expanded and now have provided an opportunity for the purchase and upcoming renovations of this new office in Bridgeport.”

“Thanks to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Express Program, we are able to help small businesses grow and expand,” said Michael Goclan, Vice President of commercial lending and business development at The Citizens Bank. “Top Notch is not just a customer of ours; they also clean several of our offices. They do excellent work for us.”

For more information, contact Top Notch at 740-312-9090 or visit their website at


Local cleaning company continues to expand.

Local cleaning company continues to expand.

Santa is coming to town!

Santa is back with a BIG Thank You to our valued clients.
We will be delivering these 15oz. Large El Grande Mugs filled with candy and a card over the month of Dec to our Customers. THANK YOU!


8th Company Car and New Tablets

Today we purchased our 8th company car… WOW!

We have also installed with security cables tablets in all of our vehicles.

Unless you are a cleaner that steals the car / seat its chained to you will not be getting our clients information.

High-Tech 🙂

Washington Observer Article


Are you too busy working full-time and running the children to their events on your off hours to clean your house to optimum standards?

Most folks are. And most folks don’t want to spend the small amount of relaxation time that they have stressing over the cleanliness of their living space.

Austin and Leanne Straub, full-time working parents of two young children, know that feeling all too well. In fact, that’s what motivated them to start up their fast-growing business, Top-Notch Cleaning, LLC, Home & Business Cleaning Service.

Their business was launched in 2013 not long after the young couple found themselves arguing over who last scrubbed the bathroom floor or dusted the house. After looking into other alternatives to solve their dilemma, the couple learned that they weren’t pleased with their local cleaning options, so together they developed the Top-Notch Cleaning concept.

Top-Notch Cleaning opened for business in February 2013 in St. Clairsville, OH, serving the areas of Barnesville, Bellaire, Bridgeport, Cambridge, Martins Ferry, Powhatten, Shadyside, St. Clairsville & Steubenville, and also the Moundsville, Wellsburg, Wheeling and Weirton areas of West Virginia.

This summer, Top-Notch Cleaning opened in Washington, PA, and the Straub’s are looking forward to the opportunity to serve such a great and growing community.

“We are a family-owned business that has grown from myself and three cleaners to a fulltime manager and 27 cleaners on staff,” said Straub. “Entering the Washington community adds an exciting new clientele to our business.”

While residential cleaning is what inspired the start of Top-Notch, it is certainly not all the company offers. The licensed, bonded and insured cleaning service with a staff of cleaners that have passed a full national background check, does a large number of commercial cleanings also.

Top-Notch handles everything from small doctor’s offices to a 10-story building.

“We clean it all,” says, Straub, adding that the professional service arrives in its trademark silver wrapped vehicles, and cleaners go to work in blue polo shirts – providing a professional look for a professional clean.

Top-Notch has also done construction cleanings all over the tri-state area including Skyvue Grade School in Monroe County, Victoria’s Secret, The Citizens Bank, MC Sports and most recently, Noodles and Company, which will soon open in Washington.

In the residential realm, Top-Notch does everything from standard weekly/bi-weekly cleaning to a full spring cleaning service, including walls, trim, cabinets, appliances and windows.

In the spirit of Austin’s late mother, who died of cancer when he was very young, Straub has proudly intertwined into the cleaning business, two important memories that Austin has of his mother – her kind and giving spirit. Mother’s Touch Cleaning Program is an entirely free cleaning service with no strings attached, providing one free cleaning to anyone who is undergoing treatment for cancer.

“The only thing we ask is that it’s within 30 minutes of our office and that we can work together on the scheduling. After the first treatment, if the cancer patient would like to continue services, we will work with them to make our rate as affordable as possible,” said Straub.

Top-Notch Cleaning uses a Pro-Team Commercial Back Pac Vacuume that has multiple filters including HEPA filters, which guarantee that they capture 99.9% of allergens out of the home. The HEPA filters are great for people with pets or severe allergies. They use a bucket-less mopping system, which is infinitely cleaner than a standard mop because everything is trapped on the pad and clean water and cleanser is used on each stroke. Unlike traditional mops, when the pad traps the dirt and dust, it is removed and replaced with a clean pad. Top-Notchalso  uses Johnson & Johsnon green cleaning products that are safe for your family but are still a complete disinfectant.

The company is flexible with scheduling and with payments, and they offer a discount if a client bundles its business and home. Top-Notch invoices monthly, and if a client is dissatisfied, the General Manager will be contacted and a follow-up cleaning will be scheduled.

“And, no, you certainly never have to clean before the cleaners arrive,” said Straub. “The reason you hire us is so you don’t have to do the cleaning. Leave the work to us.”

Top-Notch Cleaning is eager to begin serving new residential and commercial clients in the Washington area. To learn more about the company, log on to To make an appointment, call (724) 531-4668.


Here we come WASHINGTON, PA!

Top Notch Cleaning is excited to announce that we are now proudly serving the Washington, PA area!
CALL TODAY 724-531-4668
123 Washington Street
Suite #287
Washington, PA 1530