Appalachian Basin

Utica Shale Provides Holiday Cheer for Ohio Real Estate Markets

There is excitement in the winter air in Stark County, and it’s not just the eggnog. As the development of the Utica Shale progresses, the benefits the region is experiencing continue to expand. While the county opens it’s figurative doors to the industry, new doors are being opened – those of the new homes, hotels and real estate properties being scooped by the newly arrived and the newly employed.

The influx of new buyers and renters is revitalizing the area’s commercial and housing markets.  Oil and gas companies and supporting industries are leasing office space, purchasing warehouses and seeking storage areas and land.  In turn, the professionals that work for these companies are buying homes, renting apartments and staying at local motels.

The increased demand is helping to rejuvenate the local economy.  In the midst of one of the worst housing markets in memory, optimism for real estate companies and their employees is returning thanks to the shale development.

I wanted to share in the excitement and enthusiasm (OK, and maybe a little eggnog), so I made the trek down to Canton to visit with a few of the local real estate professionals there to talk about the differences they have noticed in their community.

Jenn Mucci, an agent for Cutler Real Estate, informed me that her sales team has already sold several houses to Chesapeake employees and helped others rent houses. Be sure to watch her interview below to hear how the industry has changed the market and the region:

“It’s bringing people back to the area, which is so exciting for us.”

– Jenn Mucci

Jim Bellamy, Ohio Commercial Division Manager at Howard Hanna, is receiving many phone calls from prospective oil and gas companies looking to relocate in eastern Ohio.  He anticipates economic growth for Ohio from shale development, and is excited at the benefits already beginning to show:

“This is going to be a great thing for the state of Ohio, and its already beginning to show benefits and profits to the area.”

– Jim Bellamy

Another industry reaping the rewards of Ohio’s natural resource development is the motel business.

Located along the Lincoln Highway in Minerva is Palmantier’s Motel, a local landmark that has the ambiance of the 1950’s.  The 9-unit, vintage motel opened in 1947 and is a throwback to a time when our world moved at a slower pace.  Raine and Earl Sonntag purchased the 3.25 acre property in August, 2010 hoping to restore it and generate new business.  At first, business was slow, but soon the development of the nearby Utica Shale  would change all of that, bringing new customers to their motel.

Now, Palmantier’s Motel is regularly at full-capacity.   Seventy-Five percent of their customer base is oil and gas industry workers.

Kevin Sonntag, the son of Raine and Earl, is the motel manager.  In his interview below, Kevin talks about how the local oil and natural gas development has helped business:

“Business has been great with the Utica shale development.”

– Kevin Sonntag

Here, Kevin talks about the historical significance of Palmantier’s Motel and why the Sonntag family decided to purchase it after doing some research on economic benefits the Utica shale would bring to the region:

“We’ve done the research on the shale business that was coming this way and we thought that would be another reason we would need the motel.”

-Kevin Sonntag

Kevin shares the family’s plans about expanding the business, thanks to the increase in shale activity. Their goal is to provide a home away from home for oil and gas workers who have come from other area’s.

This is just one small sample of how Utica Shale development is  revitalizing local real estate markets and related businesses in the Buckeye State.  It is important to keep in mind that all of these benefits are accruing in the earliest days of development of the Utica Shale. As the play continues to develop and more energy companies and supporting industry comes to eastern Ohio, business professionals in the real estate industry, and other industries, have good reason to celebrate and look forward to the new year.  Now that is a good reason to look to 2012 with lots of optimism about the continued progress to come.



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