Local businesses and labor leaders, elected officials, landowners and others gathered at the Log Cabin in downtown Warren last month to tout the economic benefits and job creation resulting from the development of shale oil and natural gas.
Tony Paglia, VP of Government and Media Affairs at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber
, says the event, hosted by the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, was held as a counter-presence to an anti-shale development demonstration that was simultaneously held on Warren’s Courthouse Square. “We wanted to get out the word that the Mahoning Valley welcomes oil and gas development in our area,” Paglia explains. “Most of the demonstrators against oil and gas were from outside the area and the state.”
Characterizing oil and gas development as an economic “game changer” for the Valley, Paglia says, “We have gone from one of the worst economies in the U.S. to an economy that is creating good paying jobs and providing a resurgence for our manufacturing sector.” In total the Chamber estimates upwards of 4,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created in addition to “billions of dollars in investment in the Valley region.”
Critics have said the risks associated with shale and natural gas drilling on the environment far outweigh any economic benefits. But after 30 years of economic decline, local leaders are ready to accept shale development as an opportunity to change the region’s fortunes. “We’ve all studied the pros and cons of shale development and believe with strong and effective environmental and safety laws that the risks of the industry can be managed, allowing for continue economic growth and investment,” says Paglia.
Pro-shale groups predict full development in the Valley in 2014. This means a large increase in drilling as supply chain companies continue to move into the region and local companies expand their operations.
Paglia sums up his defense and support of shale development by pointing to a recent Business Facilities Magazine
ranking that put the Youngstown-Warren region sixth in the Economic Growth Potential category among metro areas with less than 450,000 employment. “Ten years ago," says Paglia, "the Youngstown-Warren area would probably have been sixth from the bottom in economic growth potential.”
Source: Tony Paglia
Writer: Joe Baur