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Business as usual for Shale Crescent USA

We have been asked how changes in Washington will impact the Shale Crescent USA economic development and job creation initiative.

We are moving forward with business as usual. Here is why:

The Shale Crescent USA mission doesn’t change no matter who is President or regardless of state and local politics. SCUSA was founded during the Obama presidency. The SCUSA initiative is tied to the economics of the region. All politicians promise jobs. Americans, regardless of political affiliation want to see good jobs and more products made in the USA. SCUSA helps to create jobs. Our region is one of the most profitable places in the world to manufacture. In 2017 our region’s benefits were unknown except to a very small group of people. Our message has now gone global.

Natural gas production in SCUSA has been steady. Reductions in oil drilling due to low oil prices result in lower natural gas production from places like west Texas. SCUSA is now producing about a third of U.S. natural gas. Natural gas provides energy and feedstock (molecules needed to make products like health care PPE, medical equipment, electric cars and even solar panels). We should be making these products in SCUSA, not overseas.

All of the SCUSA economic advantages still exis — economical, abundant energy and feedstock; water; workforce; location in the middle of the largest economy in world; low carbon footprint.

One of the best ways to lower carbon footprint by over 50% in most cases is by creating regional supply chains, instead of shipping parts and products halfway around the world. Facilities in SCUSA will be built on top of their energy and feedstock and in the middle of their customers. Our region will continue to see cost, transportation and carbon advantages over the Gulf Coast and the rest of the world. The economic reasons for companies to locate and expand in SCUSA will become even more profound.

Those are our basics and they work. This week the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority announced a partnership with the Belpre Industrial Parkersburg Railroad, a company of Cathcart Rail, purchased the 165-acre site of the former American Electric Power Muskingum River Plant in western Washington County, Ohio. The site, which sold to Commercial Liability Partners in August 2015, has been fully demolished, remediated, and prepped for redevelopment. Additionally, the site features a 96-car unit train rail loop with aggregate unloading facility and additional rail spurs, electrical substations, a wastewater treatment facility, and access to natural gas.

Jesse Roush, executive director of the port authority, said, “The AEP facility was a premier place of employment and the jobs lost when it was decommissioned were among the best in the region. Our goal is to restore as many of those skilled, high wage jobs as we can. We are working on a plan to guide future development and anticipate announcing our first project very soon.” SCUSA has two prospects we have been working with for over two years who are now working seriously with SeOPA on sites.

SCUSA is working with prospects who are moving forward on projects in spite of the pandemic. We may see construction start later this year on some of them. Our goal is to have a circular economy in our region. We already have recycling companies located here. We are also working with a foreign company who is looking at the SCUSA to turn our organic and plastic waste into products that will be sold regionally. They will have a negative carbon footprint. We have another Zoom meeting with them this week.

There is economic and environmental justification for local companies to expand and manufacture products we all use every day, currently being made overseas. The pandemic helped to jumpstart this process. During the pandemic companies had to shut down assembly lines because one or more parts came from overseas and were unavailable because of COVID. A friend of ours with a company in the region was asked if he could replace materials coming from overseas. This is now a permanent part of his business. Local expansions as simple as adding a shift can be done quickly and create good local jobs. They also can replace global supply chains helping the planet by lowering carbon emissions. Regional companies benefit by reduced inventories and getting quality products delivered quickly at competitive prices.

Since we are a democracy we have periodic elections. Our favorite candidates won’t always win. In business and in our personal lives we all need to survive and thrive regardless of election results. We can look for common ground. We can decide to work together for a common goal. We can educate elected officials. When in corporate America, occasionally I had to deal with people who were difficult to work with. We found ways to work together for the good of the organization.

There are many things we can’t control. None of us planned on COVID and its impact on our families and work lives. We can always control our actions. Opportunity comes in many forms. We need to look for it. We can work to make our families, businesses, country and world better every day. We won’t always agree. Dialogue can lead to growth and progress if people are open minded, seek to understand and work together. Solutions better than any single group can be created. There is always a better way.

Nothing good is ever easy. Our region has a unique opportunity to create great jobs, a higher standard of living for people in the region and help to solve the drug problem by giving hope to people. We can create a cleaner more sustainable world setting an example for others to follow. We can make a difference.

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA.

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