In the article titled "Drilling Pumping Jobs Into Eastern Ohio" (Feb 18th) the author pointed out some very positive employment numbers for our area resulting from Utica Shale development. Indeed, it seems exploration of the Utica Shale is placing eastern Ohio on the cusp of an economic revitalization, a development that has escaped this area for some time.
More than a few examples exist to support this statement.
For example, sales tax revenues in Belmont County have already increased by 12% this year while Harrison County has seen their revenues increase by 21%. Ask most local businesses and they'll tell you this growth is having a ripple effect on our local economies.
As processing facilities come on line, more wells in our region will be developed which will lead to increasing wealth for landowners and local businesses.
Landowners will have the ability to buy new trucks, farm equipment and other items they once could not afford. Operators and service companies will be purchasing goods and services locally. This new revenue stream will have an even greater effect on our local economies.
Gulfport Energy has already developed some phenomenal wells in Belmont County. Once pipeline infrastructure is in place, Belmont County could soon see the same benefits that Carroll County is already experiencing. Not only has their sales tax revenue increased 25% over the past year but their unemployment rate has dropped by a whopping 3%. The same could be in store for us here in Belmont County.
While it's still very early in the exploration phase of Utica Shale development, it's already proving to be the shot in the arm that the Ohio Valley and the rest of eastern Ohio has needed for a very long time. This is noticed by the 38,000 jobs already supported by shale development in Ohio according to a recent US Chamber of Commerce study.
As development continues and processing plants become operational this number will continue to grow and will provide good paying jobs for many Ohio Valley residents. For the first time in a while the future is bright for eastern Ohio and that's exactly the way it should be.