Sunoco may no longer turn crude oil into gasoline at its Marcus Hook plant, but plastics manufacturing will continue in Delaware County.
The Corbett Administration has invested $15 million dollars to keep parts of the Sunoco refinery operating. The plant shut its doors earlier this year.
The Braskem polypropylene plant sits right across the street from the Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook. For years it used the refinery byproduct, propylene, to make nuggets of polypropylene, which gets turned into everything from plastic water bottles to credit cards.
Dan Crawford has worked here at Braskem for decades. But when he heard word of the refinery shutdown, which put about 400 people out of work, he worried about his job too.
“It’s a good feeling to know I’m on the inside looking out instead of the outside looking in,” Crawford said. “And it’s very much hard times and I don’t want to be part of it.”
The Brazilian company, Braskem, bought Sunoco’s polypropylene splitter and took over operation of that part of the Sunoco refinery. This is good news for Crawford and 118 of his fellow employees at the plant. Braskem will also hire 28 more employees. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett stood with Braskem executives at a press conference in Marcus Hook to applaud the move.
“Between here and the western part of the state, you are going to see in ten to 15 years in my opinion, Pennsylvania returning to being a manufacturing state,” Corbett said.
Now, he said, the narrative is different. He said manufacturing is “coming back back not only to the country but it’s coming back to the state and that’s where we want to go.”
The Corbett Administration says it is working hard to market other aspects of the shuttered refinery to natural gas processors and bring back the hundreds of jobs lost in southeast Pennsylvania. But those efforts will likely require some kind of grant or tax incentive from the state.
State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware County, may have been one of the few Democrats at Corbett’s announcement.
“The concern is: ‘Will we really get a return on our investment?’ And today, I’m here because we are retaining a good deal of jobs,” she said. “But I’m also concerned about public sector jobs in education and how all of these tax credits are effecting education in Pennsylvania.”
The $15 million dollar state grant is contingent on job creation and infrastructure investment.