Daily Jeffersonian OpEd: What is really going on in Ohio?
In late 2011, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) released the Ohio Oil and Gas Industry Economic Impact Study. The Study, conducted by Kleinhenz & Associates, recognized the significant impact of both the current oil and gas industry, as well as the economic and job potential of the Utica-Point Pleasant Shale formation. The report was met with skepticism, with critics making claims of skewed exaggeration.
Today, barely a year later, billions of dollars have been invested in our state, and a recent study conducted by IHS-Cera on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, shows 38,000 Ohio jobs have been generated thanks to the development of our local energy resource. Our state has also jumped from 48th to fourth in overall job creation, and in the Midwest, Ohio ranks first in this category.
The evidence has shown our numbers were not exaggerated, but rather ones that now appear to have been too conservative. Over the past year, our focus quickly shifted from projections to actions that are ensuring Ohioans are prepared to maximize the incredible opportunity this industry continues to offer to our state.
Preparing our local workforce afforded by the industry in the years to come, is the utmost priority for the industry. With funding from Ohio’s natural gas and crude oil producers, and no burdensome taxpayer dollars, OOGEEP is now working with 45 Ohio colleges, universities, career centers and vocational schools gearing up to help meet the continued demand for trained workers in the next several years. Another 1,800 Ohio industry workers and 978 Ohio firefighters have completed specialized technical and safety training programs.
In 2012, an additional 35 scholarships were awarded to Ohio students through our industry funded Scholarship Foundation, and to date more than 1,300 K-12 schools and 2,600 teachers from all 88 Ohio counties have participated in state and nationally recognized STEM based curriculum workshops. The investment in education and workforce training our industry makes today is paramount to our future success.
We conducted 208 public presentations around the state last year to local communities, business leaders, chambers and professional groups in order to educate the public not only on the common practices and technical processes involved in the exploration, drilling and production of natural gas and crude oil, but also on the number of local communities and businesses that can best position themselves to take advantage of the potential benefits afforded by the Ohio geological gift beneath our feet. There is still too much misinformation surrounding Ohio’s oil and gas industry.
In the coming year, and the years ahead, we will continue our focus on education, and preparation with our schools, our communities and our workforce. By working together in this shared experience, we can ensure a future of great promise, and immeasurable opportunity.
Truth be told, the thousands of jobs already created — and the billions of dollars in Ohio investments — are only a glimpse of what’s to come in the years ahead … and we are just getting started.
**Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in The Daily Jeffersonian on January 25, 2013.**