Oil and Gas Development Fuels Local Business Boom in Eastern Ohio
Travelers heading through eastern Ohio have long noticed a lack of hotels to accommodate them during their trek through the area. With growing shale development, however, more hotels are now opening up to accommodate workers and travelers alike. These new hotels and campgrounds are abuzz with activity, which is providing additional growth for local economies.
In Guernsey County there are currently four new hotels that are in process of opening to accommodate the increased economic activity in the region. These four hotels have provided an unanticipated construction boom, keeping local construction workers busy over the past year.
Although it is shale development that got the hotel developers interested, there has been a need in the county since long before the Utica Shale became a household name. Cambridge sits at the crossroads of Interstates 70 and 77, which is why many travelers may have heard of this 11,000 person town. In addition to the being the crossroads, Guernsey County is also home to many sites and events that draw a lot of visitors, such as the Dickens Victorian Village, Salt Fork State Park – which is Ohio’s largest state park – some of the best deer hunting in the state, and the Paul Bunyan Festival. Guernsey County is also hosting the State Little League tournament this year.
Down the road in Belmont County, a new Days Inn is opening to accommodate the influx of traffic coming through St. Clairsville. Again, oil and natural gas development is the main driver for the developers to build the hotel, but it will be those visiting the area well into the future who will benefit the most. The largest draw of the year for Belmont County is the country mega concert Jamboree in the Hills. This four-day long party attracts tens of thousands of country music fans from across the nation. While many camp at the grounds, others prefer to rest at a hotel after the shows each night. In the past, people would have to stay more than an hour away because of limited hotel capacity, but this new local hotel will now share the same exit.
In addition to hotels being built in the area, campgrounds have also seen a boost in occupancy. Campgrounds across the eastern portion of Ohio are now staying open year round to accommodate those working in the oil and gas industry. This is a new revenue generator for the campgrounds, who have typically struggled in the winter months with no business.
This is now the second winter in a row the Salem/Lisbon KOA Kampground has remained opened to accommodate the workers. Mike Perline, manager of the Salem/Lisbon KOA Kampground enjoys having them around. He even has put together a “Family Food Night” once a week for the workers to show his appreciation:
“They have been like family to us now,” Perline said. “They have helped us, so we’ll keep helping them.”
Of course, it is important to note these people who are staying at the hotels and campgrounds in eastern Ohio aren’t all from out of state. Many of these folks working in eastern Ohio are residents who just don’t live near the job site and choose to be closer to reduce morning commute time. Jerry Puchajda, a general laborer from Lisbon with Laborers Local 809 in Steubenville stays at Sally Buffalo Park in Cadiz, Ohio, because it is just down the road from where he is working.
While Utica Shale development has brought over $20 billion in upstream and midstream development to Ohio, these other investments are also providing good jobs and revenue for our communities. Whether it is a hotel or a campground, shale development is helping provide revenue for these hard working local entrepreneurs, which in turn is making the lives of visitors and travelers a little bit better.