Marcellus Shale

Bringing the “Yinz” and “Yous” Together On Marcellus Shale Business

Call it the Yinz/Yous Line, the point that separates geographies and dialects of western Pennsylvania from the eastern side of the state. For most of my life, I have bounced between the two. Born the grandson of coal miner grandfathers from Clearfield County, I grew up on the eastern side of the state where my father worked as a high school principal. Bouncing back and forth later in life, I spent weekends in Pittsburgh while my son studied there, and at a second home just short of State College.

Over the past few years, that divide seemed to grow as Marcellus Shale development took on new prominence for the Commonwealth and our energy future. Back in Pittsburgh, I found common ground with those who viewed shale development as a positive energy story about jobs, clean burning natural gas and domestic energy supplies that will keep our sons and daughters out of harm’s way.

In Philadelphia, it was a different story that came to a head late last year when I sat down with the CEO of a major truck manufacturer. He presented me with the challenge of finding new verticals for his sales team. I came to him with facts in hand about Marcellus Shale development – the opportunity and potential.   He scoffed, “I have issues with that industry,” and then mindlessly rattled off a series of inaccuracies about hydraulic fracturing and its dangers. It was at that moment that I decided to do something positive about the public perception of shale development here in the Delaware Valley. After all, if a CEO, whose primary responsibility is growing business and revenue, was so misinformed, then there was much work to be done.

So this past month, we went forward with our efforts to educate southeast Pennsylvania businesses to the real and substantive opportunities that accompany this huge domestic energy play.

The Delaware Valley Marcellus Association launched with the intention of educating local businesses, decision makers and others to the facts and issues surrounding Marcellus Shale development. We open with four founding members, including Duane Morris, KPMG, ModSpace and my firm, Gregory FCA, the largest PR firm in the Commonwealth. Our blog, is now up and operating and our first event, a breakfast meeting with Penn State Professor of Geosciences, Terry Engelder, is scheduled for June 12, and is quickly filling up.

Marcellus Shale development is a particularly difficult issue for many Philadelphia businesses to get their arms around. The gas isn’t beneath our feet, so it’s more difficult to see the relevance. That’s unfortunate, because as the traditional, political and financial center of the state, Delaware Valley businesses could be in line for lots of opportunity in everything from finance to supply, logistics to transportation. As an export, gas has the potential to flow overseas from terminals along the Delaware River. Such commerce will impact employment and tax revenue, and provide a wealth of family-supporting blue and white collar jobs.

But it will only happen if Delaware Valley businesses mobilize now to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime energy story, the chapters of which are only now being written.  The Delaware Valley Marcellus Association stands with the industry to drive that message home here in Southeast, PA and provide the linkage between the business expertise so available in this area with the producers and opportunity now so abundant just West of Yinz/Yous Line, a divide we hope to narrow in the months and years to come.

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