Moving Forward Together in Jefferson County
Henry Ford once said “if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
His words pretty much sum up what has transpired in Jefferson County since we first learned of the potential growth possible through the development of the Utica Shale.
About a year ago, county leaders began touring communities in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to gain a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges heading our way. These visits helped us all realize the importance of teamwork and cooperation as we worked to properly prepare.
Local efforts began when the Jefferson County commissioners stepped forward and created a road use maintenance agreement. The agreement is working here and already a major drilling company has invested millions to repair county and township roads.
Our commissioners also created a countywide oil and gas committee, designed to examine the industry and its impact. The committee has focused on issues related to education and communications and made has made major strides.
Jefferson County Connections, our one stop employment center, has developed a workshop designed to brief residents on employment in the industry. Eastern Gateway Community College stepped forward and began offering formalized training for those looking to obtain employment in the oil and gas area.
Progress Alliance, the public-private economic development organization, and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce teamed up to present three programs on oil and gas, all designed to educate the local business community about what is coming and how local business can benefit.
Thus, as you can tell, everyone in Jefferson County has been, and continues to be, moving forward together.
The activity level related to oil and gas development continues to increase. My organization has worked with more than 30 companies in recent months, all looking to establish operations here thanks to the opportunities from shale. Several have found space and several others are wrapping up negotiations.
Jobs are being created, investments are being made. In addition, the area is drawing interest from retailers and hotel developers.
Our county is moving closer and closer to realizing what has been called “a once in a century opportunity.” Many organizations have worked hard to properly prepare and now we are beginning to realize success.
We, of course, realize there are issues related to the growth and the industry. At the same time, however, we know what this opportunity means for us. Our region of Ohio has struggled for years. We have a real chance through the shale industry that we simply cannot miss.
Working together does indeed work. Many Jefferson County organizations have moved forward as one and the early results tell us we have done the right thing.