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Delco rebounding from business challenges, official says

Despite refinery closures, a storm for the ages, and the perils of the "fiscal cliff," Delaware County has experienced something of an industrial renaissance, according to James L. McGarrigle, the County Council chairman.

"We have plenty of Silver Linings," he said at a county Chamber of Commerce lunch Tuesday in Media, invoking the movie, Silver Linings Playbook, which was filmed in part in the county.

In his annual state of the county address, McGarrigle said the future "is bright. We've tackled and turned around some major challenges.

"We were dealt a tough blow when our two major refineries closed. We were soaked by Hurricane Sandy. And we were all nervous about hurtling over the 'fiscal cliff.' "

But, he said, "I stand before you today more confident than ever before."

McGarrigle pointed to the rescue of the Conoco Phillips refinery in Trainer, where Monroe Energy is producing jet fuel as a subsidiary of Delta Airlines.

"Monroe invested $180 million in improvements to the Trainer facility," he said. "They employed 394 direct workers, 36 contract workers, and 105 building-trades contractors daily.

"Over 1,500 construction jobs were employed during the turnaround last summer.

"Every union worker from Conoco who wanted a job at Monroe got one, in addition to 35 Sunoco workers who were hired."

The Sunoco refinery was the other major Delaware County operation that closed its gates.

McGarrigle also focused on two businesses in the making. In Marcus Hook, he said, "Braskem America is investing $56 million in purchasing and improving its plant located on part of the Sun refinery site," for which "119 jobs will be retained, 28 new jobs will be created . . ..

"They will use the Marcus Hook refinery to produce polypropylene, a form of plastic used in water bottles and credit cards."

The second is the Mariner East Project, "a $600 million joint venture between Range Resources and Sun Logistic," he said. "It will move 88,000 barrels per day of Marcellus Shale natural gas to [the] Marcus Hook refinery and will create 450 construction jobs."