Appalachian Basin

As Ohio Takes Flight Brunswick’s Future Becomes Cloudy

Sometimes, consequences become very clear.  Nowhere is that more evident than in Brunswick, Ohio.  Just days after Governor Kasich declared “jobs are our greatest moral purpose” and noted that Ohio is leading the Midwest in job creation thanks, in large, part to  the continued development of the Utica Shale, it appears this newfound prosperity could be limited in Brunswick due to a resolution being entertained by the City Council.

The resolution, sponsored by Council President Pat Hanek, seeks to compel the Ohio General Assembly to repeal laws – passed years ago – that provide the state regulatory authority over oil and natural gas operations. It has caused significant controversy with the Mayor, other council members, and the business community supporting Medina County’s largest city.

Upon the introduction of the resolution, Brunswick Mayor Gary Werner warned it would be a “deterrent” to economic development and also noted “In many ways this is an old issue, and from my perspective it continues to be somewhat dubious.”

Now, as the rest of Ohio sees economic promise, it appears the Mayor may have been right. The CEO of Philpot Rubber, a company that has doubled in size since 2009 and was recently recognized for being in Brunswick for over 100 years, announced the resolution could force it to move one of its fastest growing businesses outside the city limits.

At a press conference earlier this week, Philpott’s CEO had this to say:

This unnecessary legislation will make Brunswick a poster child for those that are anti-business in general and specifically anti-energy exploration and production. Since providing environmentally friendly products to this industry is a key growth component of the Company’s strategic plan, Philpott will be forced to locate its new wholesale operation outside of Brunswick to avoid the requirement of placing the DOT required placard on its vehicles that would say “Brunswick, OH” on them

–Mike Baach, Philpott (Resolution passage could affect Philpott’s future plans in Brunswick, 2/19/13)

Baach would go on to add:

We’re here, we’re loyal and we’re a part of the community… the publicity (passage of the resolution would bring) would put a huge burden on us.

I cannot imagine our shale gas customers wanting to deal with a company that boasts of supporting an anti-energy city

–Mike Baach, Philpott (Resolution passage could affect Philpott’s future plans in Brunswick, 2/19/13)

Mr. Baach is not alone in his discontent. The Brunswick Chamber of Commerce joined him in protesting the resolution at a city council hearing earlier this month.

The reason Brunswick’s business community opposes the legislation is simple.  The City of Medina has little likelihood of seeing any Utica Shale development and this political statement will end up costing the city much-needed tax revenues and job growth.

Taking all of this into account, Mr. Baach has pleaded with the Council to oppose the resolution.  He is afraid the legislation will not only limit economic growth, but will also deprive the City’s residents and businesses of needed safety and infrastructure improvements.  However, since Philpott is wholly owned by its employees, his main concern lies with the families that rely on a steady business stream to make ends meet.  He has deep concerns the resolution, if passed, will significantly hurt the company’s ability to grow which will limit the opportunities that can be shared with his employees.

Similar proposals have been offered elsewhere in Ohio with many achieving little success due to the high consequences.  This sentiment was expressed by Brunswick Mayor Gary Werner weeks ago when he urged Council to look at the issue more wholistically:

My suggestion, if you decide to go ahead with this (legislation) is to research it. You may end up at the same place — that there is no reason to move forward with this technology. But if you are firmly against drilling, know what the costs are – overall and here locally. –  Mayor Gary Werner  (Brunswick Council divided on drilling, 2/8/13)

Unfortunately, it appears the Council failed to heed the Mayor’s warning, and instead opted to pursue what appears to be a politically motivated resolution that will provide little, if any, benefit to Brunswick’s residents.  Now, as the council grapples with the resolution’s ultimate fate, jobs for hard working Ohioans hang in the balance.  The only consolation seems to be that this debate makes clear the consequences of these proposals.  However,  that doesn’t provide much relief to Brunswick residents who simply want to make ends meet and see their local economy continue to grow.

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