Bright Future

IF ANYONE has any doubts about the impact the Utica and Marcellus shale industry is having on Ohio, a new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy should set the record straight.

The oil and gas businesses was responsible for nearly 39,000 Ohio jobs in 2012. That lofty total, however, pales in comparison to what the future holds.

The study indicates that oil and gas fracking may produce as many as 266,000 jobs in the Buckeye State by the year 2035. That is great economic projections for Ohio.

Eastern Ohio will be one of the major beneficiaries of the boom as much of the growth is projected for Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Monroe counties. Such numbers, should they come to fruition, would be the ideal tonic for an ailing Ohio Valley economy.

Many large companies are ramping up their fracking wells in Eastern Ohio, while processing companies are constructing more and more plants locally.

The study also shows that in 2012, the industry directly or indirectly contributed about $4.1 billion into Ohio’s economy, or gross state product. By 2035, the total value added to the state’s economy is expected to be more than $35 billion.

Should those forecasts just come close to reality, the economic windfall would be a tremendous shot-in-the-arm both locally and statewide. Our area is just beginning to feel the positive effects which the gas and oil business yield.

The fracking boom is being augmented by the quality training that institutions such as Belmont College, Eastern Gateway Community College and West Virginia Northern Community College are delivering to Ohio’s labor force. Those schools are yielding a work force, ready to hit the ground running in the oil and natural gas business.

The prospects associated with the oil and gas industry are exciting and filled with optimism. We also wouldn’t mind if the timeline mapped by the U.S. Chamber doesn’t come sooner than planned.