The chemical industry has a large presence in each of the five states making up the FirstEnergy region, with Ohio ranking third in the nation for chemical manufacturing. Most of the region is located over major shale formations, which provide a ready supply of feedstock to the chemical and polymers industries. In addition, excellent highways, railways, waterways and international ports provide ready access to leading markets.
Polymer innovations constitute a large part of the chemical industry in this region. In addition, there are clusters focused on fertilizer and pesticides, and paint, coatings and adhesives. Other strong industries in this region are closely tied to the chemical industry, including the food industry (Pennsylvania), biopharmaceuticals (Maryland), transportation and logistics, and automotive.
Among other states in the region, West Virginia has assertively cultivated the chemical industry with the formation of the Chemical Alliance Zone (CAZ) and the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC). Two of only five accredited academic programs in plastics engineering in the U.S. are in Pennsylvania: Penn State Behrend Campus and Pennsylvania College’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center (PIRC).