The Pritchard-Laughlin Civic Center in Cambridge was host to hundreds of businesses looking to discover local opportunities in the shale industry, and industry that is rapidly growing in Ohio.
"The oil and gas companies, the big producers, are going to be coming to Ohio, there is a big energy future here." said CDC Development Solutions Senior Director Michael Levett.
With that big future comes fear. Fear of the unknown, and in some cases, fear for the surroundings.
"Some people have some fears about traffic, they have environmental fears." explained Muskingum County Commissioner Steve Strauss
Keynote speaker Michael Levett says his company works to reduce some of those fears, by working around the world with large energy companies to increase local contracts provided, which in turn, provides a sense of security. Levett says it’s important to be realistic when it comes to shale.
"Expectations often get raised too high, truthfully the oil and gas sector itself is capital intensive, it’s not really labor intensive" explained Levett. "…Figuring out how many direct jobs and how many indirect jobs are going to come and how many contracts."
Amy Rutledge works to make the shale boom in Carroll County, Ohio, goes as smoothly as possible. There are currently eight wells in Carroll County, five of which are producing. Rutledge refers to her county as the shale "epicenter" in Ohio. She says she has seen the shale benefits firsthand, and says it’s something to look forward to.
"Our unemployment rate is decreasing, and probably by the end of the year anyone who wants a job should have a job." said Rutledge.
The decreasing unemployment rate is just one of the many things representatives from Guernsey and Muskingum Counties are looking forward to.
"It’s a game-changer for us. Appalachia has always had that feeling like "nothing is going to happen here", and we’ve been through some booms and busts before, but what we’re doing this time is we’re having a different attitude going into it." said President of Cambridge Area Chamber of Commerce Jo Sexton.
"One of my personal goals, and goals for our county is to get as many local businesses and local people involved." explained Strauss.
As for the fears, according the experts, it’s not really all that bad.
"I understand the fears, we also worry about what it’s going to be, we’re a small rural county, and it’s changing our landscape, but you have to make sacrifices sometimes." explained Rutledge. "It’s a positive affect, there are some negatives, some of our long-term, employers are starting to lose people because they’re not paying as much. There are ups and downs, with any good positive thing there is also a negative, so that’s one of the things you just have to take the good with the bad."
One good thing all the experts agree on, is that the shale industry is in Ohio to stay.
"We’re not talking about 2012, we’re talking about 2016, 2020, 2030." said Levett.