Shale drilling should fuel an economic boom in Ohio, but keeping that money in the buckeye state is a concern.
Kevin Lewis is a representative of Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, a partnership representing the Ohio Contractors Association and all of the labor unions in the state. On Thursday Lewis sat down with the Muskingum County Commissioners to discuss the possibility of hiring local contractors.
"Many times when you get the out-of-state people coming into work, they're going to benefit maybe some fast food restaurants and hotels, but they're going to take 75-80% of that money back to their home state," said Lewis.
Although some of the jobs require specialized training, Lewis said his workers are qualified to prep the drilling sites and conduct the necessary roadwork. He said the commissioners are completely on board, but it's difficult to secure connections with the gas companies.
"The biggest obstacle is being able to sit down with them and explain to them that we have qualified people that already have the knowledge and ability to do this work, so we want them to understand that they don't have to bring people from out of state," said Lewis.
Lewis is visiting commissioners and engineers all over the state, and he said his goal is to ensure that Ohio residents directly benefit from shale drilling projects.