Harrison County Showing the True Power of Utica Development
Throughout my lifetime Harrison County has had a relatively stagnant economy. Gone were the days of heavy coal production and folks, including myself, seemed to think there was little to nothing coming down the pike that could stimulate the county’s economy. This may have been true for awhile, that is until development of the Utica Shale and Point Pleasant formations began with Chesapeake’s Buell well in mid-2011.
Since then, Harrison County has become the 2nd most permitted county in the Utica play, following only Carroll County. Some major projects spurred by this development include MarkWest’s first major cryogenic processing plant in eastern Ohio which just opened and processes 125 Mmcf/d with more units still being built at the Cadiz facility. Up the road in Scio, 250 contractors are busy building M3’s fractionation plant to remove valuable natural gas liquids from the gas pulled from the Utica. At the same time, Chesapeake and Gulfport Energy have 3 of the 5 best wells in the state located in different areas of the county. Meanwhile, pipeline companies are making their way through the county to link up the wells to the processing plants.
Though still early in the Utica’s development Harrison County is beginning to see the true economic benefits that come with this increased activity. After a quick visit to the village if Cadiz’s income tax office I found that the county seat for Harrison County is seeing its income tax collections grow at an exponential rate. In 2011, Cadiz collected $630,270.70 in local income tax. In 2012, that number grew to $768,596.01 representing an 18% increase. As of May 31st, Cadiz has already collected more income tax than it did during all of 2011 having already received $682,779.35.
The growth in Cadiz is astonishing and doesn’t represent much of the revenue gained by residents from the leasing of mineral rights since most of that activity is occurring outside the village. So, in essence, Cadiz’s income tax growth is representative of local residents taking jobs in, or supporting, the oil and natural gas industry in Harrison County.
It goes without saying that thanks to this new income tax growth, Cadiz officials now have more money to reinvest into the community. That point was made clear by Rich Milleson, an economic development coordinator in the village. Milleson noted:
“The village continues to benefit from the increasing demand of the oil and gas industry and the business that support it. We will continue to reinvest these new found revenues into projects that benefit out residents and businesses.”–Rich Milleson, Cadiz Economic Development Coordinator
Meanwhile, the increase in jobs in Harrison County as a whole is evident by the significant drop in unemployment from April 2012 to April 2013. In April 2012, the County’s unemployment rate was 8.5%. In April 2013, the unemployment rate had dropped 1.4% to 7.1% percent.
In addition to increased income tax and decreased unemployment, Harrison County saw a staggering increase of sales tax receipts over 2011 to 2012 which echoed the economic growth occurring in the county. For example, in 2011 Harrison County received sales tax receipts totaling $979,510.94. Over the course of the next year, Harrison County increased their sales tax receipts to $1,211,773.78. This 22% increase was due to increased investments by companies like Chesapeake and MarkWest along with more money being spent by residents whose incomes increased thanks to Utica Shale development.
Given this, Harrison County is currently Ohio’s standout county in terms of accruing investment and benefits from Utica Shale development. Other counties are beginning to see similar benefits but are still in the early stages of this economic growth. As development continues, it should be everyone’s hope that future economic activity in other Ohio counties above the Utica Shale reflect the growth happening in Harrison County today.