From banking to natural gas production to manufacturing, executives from Washington and Greene counties are expecting 2018 to be a strong year for business. Many cited the construction of Shell’s ethane cracker plant in Beaver County as an impetus for growth here, as well as the new federal tax law that favors corporations. Others looked at strong business performance, particularly in the second half of 2017, as a reason to expect more of the same this year.

Barron P. (Pat) McCune, CEO, CB Financial Services Inc.: The bank holding company for Carmichaels-based Community Bank is looking forward to completing its $49 million acquisition of Wheeling, W.Va.-based First West Virginia Bancorp, the holding company for Progressive Bank. The deal, which was announced in mid-November and expected to close in the second quarter of 2018, will enable CB Financial to extend its reach into the tri-state area.

Mergers aside, McCune sees a lot of optimism for banks and businesses of all sizes in the upcoming year.

“I think 2018 will be an excellent year for the local banking industry,” he said. “The local economy is improving and doing well and has some more room to grow, especially with shale gas and the industry’s poster child, the Shell cracker plant,” which is under construction in Beaver County, he said.

McCune also cited interest rates that are “moving toward normalcy, which should be good for both customers and the banking industry” and “the pro-business philosophy of the current administration that will give the business community the confidence to invest.”

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