Success is very possible with the right attitude

Are you tired of West Virginia being at the bottom of the wrong lists? Ohio is not immune. When I got involved with Shale Crescent USA one of the first things I heard was that southeast Ohio has always been a stepchild of the state of Ohio. The real danger is people get it in their mind that is where they belong. They begin to think of themselves as losers and expect to fail.

I remember a high school soccer game I coached a few years ago. Our opponent put everyone back on defense. If they took a shot at our goal I don’t remember it. We had a good team, eventually winning the state championship that season, but we played a lot of close games. The response of the opposing coach after the game surprised me when he said, “I knew we couldn’t win so I just played to keep the score down.” Even that didn’t work. Starting out with an attitude of failure in athletics, economic development or life will get you just what you expect or worse. Upsets happen all the time, but only when people believe they can.

What is exciting to me is the positive attitude I see from people in the Shale Crescent USA region, especially those in the Ohio Valley. I see it and sense it in the many presentations we do and meetings we attend like chamber dinners. People are excited and are beginning to believe in a bright future. When we bring prospects into the region, they can see it, too. Seeing people that are happy and positive who love their state and their jobs attract prospects. They want to be part of what we have.

We have a lot to be proud of. Mark West’s Sherwood facility in Doddridge County is now the largest natural gas processing facility in North America and probably in the world. That is a big deal! These are high-wage jobs. Most require only a two- year degree. The Shale Crescent USA region is now producing 32 percent of our nation’s natural gas, up from only 3 percent in 2010. The nation’s growth in natural gas and natural gas liquids is coming from the Shale Crescent USA, and our air and water is the cleanest it has been in my lifetime.

Mike Graney, head of the West Virginia Development Office, shared some incredible statistics at a recent conference:

West Virginia is now No. 1 in overall economic growth

West Virginia has the lowest employee turnover rate in manufacturing.

West Virginia has the lowest Workers’ Compensation rates. Another big deal!

West Virginia is No. 11 in the cost of doing business. This is a major change!

West Virginia is 19th in overall business climate, now ahead of Virginia at No. 22. In a former life as a regional manager, I remember Virginia being No. 2 and West Virginia was near the bottom. This year we had a foreign prospect that didn’t want to come to West Virginia because he thought we were western Virginia. When he started complaining about Richmond, I knew what the problem was. They are now considering West Virginia for an expansion

Most important, our region is unique. Shale Crescent USA is the only place on planet Earth where a manufacturing or petrochemical plant can be built on top of the feed stock and in the middle of their customers. Normally companies have to decide if they want to be close to the natural resources or close to their customers. We clearly have a very unique selling proposition.

We still have a lot of work to do, but we can now do our required work knowing that we have a lot of things going for us. People and companies are interested in coming here. We need to continue to grow and develop our work force. People have to make their own decisions, but they can now see young people in their 20s earning $50,000 to $100,000+ a year with only a two-year degree and little or no student debt. In my opinion, we should encourage more people to look at the two-year technical school option or the building trades.

We still need to improve our highway system. Ohio 7 and W.Va. 2 will need help as the valley continues to grow. An expansion of Interstate 68 from Morgantown to the Ohio Valley and on to I-77 is now at least being discussed. We need a natural gas liquids storage hub. We need to improve our pipeline system to get our abundant natural gas production to local companies that need it for expansion.

We have a lot to do, but with a positive attitude, teamwork and belief in our ability we can solve any problem. We can create a future that will give people hope and prosperity. We are special. This isn’t Appalachia. It is the Shale Crescent USA.

Thoughts to ponder.

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com, is director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. He is the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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