Shale Development a Blessing to Ohio
Having spent the better part of two decades in the construction industry, I can say that the past four years have been trying times for many in my industry. In fact, it’s hard to find any good news to give hope to the countless unemployed construction workers across our great nation.
That’s where my story begins. I’m the former owner of a $25 million a year residential construction and land development company. My home state of Georgia has been hit disproportionately hard by the recession and left many of my closest friends financially devastated. My company, with limited opportunities and dwindling revenues, closed its doors for good this past summer.
I began to look for a job (for the first in my life as I’ve been self-employed for 25+ years) this past summer. Finding a good opportunity in the construction industry is challenging to say the least. Then, I got a call from a company in Ohio. Ohio? I’d visited Ohio many years back, but until recently, would have never considered calling it home. That’s where I first heard about hydraulic fracturing. No, it’s not an obscenity. In my book, it’s a God-send!
This past November, I was offered and accepted the position as Director of Business Development at Kelchner which launched a new chapter in my life. My new company has a long and storied history in the construction industry and like most construction industry firms, the past four years have been lean. A good portion of our company’s business was in residential land development and needless to say, that segment of the business has been lack luster for the past few years. Limited opportunities have been the norm. That is, until new opportunity arrived in the form of the Utica Shale.
For those of you who don’t know, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio are fast becoming major players in America’s quest for energy independence. In the late 1800’s, Ohio was the nation’s largest producer of oil and again today, Ohio is set to be a major source of crude oil and natural gas. Conservative estimates from the Ohio Geological survey suggests that the Utica is believed to hold more than 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 5.5 billion barrels of oil and thanks to modern extraction methods will be a viable resource in our advancement toward energy independence.
On a side note, I am extremely committed to environmental stewardship and earth friendly business practices and I have dedicated my construction career to that end. I’m glad to see companies are developing environmentally friendly solutions in an effort to address environmental concerns.
My observation is that clean burning natural gas is our best energy solution for the foreseeable future, and many environmentally responsible companies are leading the way to our goal of energy independence right here in Ohio. And with reasonable oversight already established, economic advancement and environmental concerns can coexist.
Back to jobs in Ohio. Oil industry experts have estimated that 200,000 new jobs will be created in Ohio over the next decade. As for me, I can only speak to the fact that it added the 60+ Ohioans my company hired in 2011 and the planned 25+ additional hires we have scheduled for 2012, thank you Utica!