Shale Revitalizing Small Town, USA
I am from Wellsville, Ohio. As a graduate of Wellsville High, Kent State and now serving as a current City Councilman, this town is as much a part of me as anything else. Like many who live in “small town, Ohio”, watching the decline of our local economy has been difficult to stomach. Long before it was national news, folks in this region have been talking about an economic recession. We’ve had a front row seat to watch our factories close, manufacturing jobs disappear, and our local economy depleted as a result. Ever since the fall of the steel mills, we have been anticipating the return of a savior industry.
To think, this whole time that opportunity has been right here under our feet. Who could have thought we have been standing on a virtual gold mine of untapped natural resources hidden within the Utica Shale?
In Wellsville, the eye rolling doubts that first met the conversation on the incredible opportunities the Utica Shale will bring to our region have been replaced by newfound optimism for the future. New revenue is rolling into once empty pocket books, stabilizing local economies and creating hope.
Development of this fantastic resource is bringing new optimism back into small Ohio towns like Wellsville, creating modern day Jed Clampetts. New, Ohio energy jobs are paying salaries unheard of in recent memory, from those working the rig to the businesses needed to service the new workers and industry.
Shale development is the saving grace Wellsville has been waiting for- bringing over night ‘shaleionaires’ (shale millionaires), good paying careers and a future filled with opportunities for our youth.
With recent studies projecting tens-of-thousands of new jobs related to the oil and gas industry, towns like Wellsville will no longer have to suffer from ‘the brain drain’, watching our talented young men and women leave home for lack of opportunity. Now the Wellsville High School class of 2012, and others, can look forward to good paying careers here in their hometown.
Of course this isn’t limited to jobs on a rig. These careers create other jobs, because employees need some place to spend their money. Restaurants, retail stores and car dealerships will once again dot the landscape. Industries to service the oil and gas sector, such as foundries, mills, auto-parts stores, hardware stores and uniform shops are springing up all around.
But it’s not just future opportunities waiting for us. We can see the positive impact this is having right here, and right now.
In towns across the Ohio Valley, we can finally have the financial resources needed to repair infrastructure and other needs unseen since the steel mills shut down in the early 1980’s . The money generated from leasing unused city property for development, royalty payments and tax revenue is being used not only to repair, but revitalize main street Ohio.
In the future small town pride – Tiger pride – is promising, because opportunities for a lucrative economic future have returned. Once again the American Dream of a raising your children, owning a home with a white picket fence, and being able to keep your kids at home will be attainable to regular folks. It’s all there waiting for us, right beneath our feet.