Williamsport in the International Spotlight Thanks to Natural Gas
Williamsport was recently in the international spotlight when TV Tokyo visited, and not for Japan’s all-star performance in this year’s Little League World Series. No, this time it was the natural gas boom that brought these international visitors to our region.
The United States has been sitting on shale plays that have the potential to decrease our reliance on foreign oil and create economic prosperity for Americans, something we haven’t seen in years. With this in mind, a crew from TV Tokyo visited Williamsport, Pennsylvania to see the economic boom for themselves and develop a story for their viewers in Japan. During the course of their visit, the three person film crew spoke to businesses directly involved with natural gas development and many other ancillary businesses reaping the benefits it has brought to their area.
The main story behind TV Tokyo’s trip to America was to highlight the positive changes occurring within the American economy.
This is the first in many, many stories that we did in terms of U.S. economy that we did, that was actually positive. – Maki Fukasaku
This crew could have chosen anywhere in the United States to film the impact natural development is having on the U.S. economy, so why did they choose Williamsport? Well, for a couple of reasons. Williamsport is quickly becoming the hub of Marcellus activity with a variety of companies opening their offices in and around the city. It was the 7th fast growing metropolitan area and had the 6th highest wage increase in the country in 2011 as a direct result of the Marcellus Shale activity in the area. Jason Fink of the Williamsport Lycoming Chamber of Commerce talks about this in the following videos.
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The current unemployment rate in Williamsport is considerably lower than the national average. Much of this is due to the development of natural gas.
Marcellus Energy Park
When I caught up to the film crew they were being taken around the Marcellus Energy Park by Brent M. Fish, owner of Fishlips LLC. Fishlips is a partnership that specializes in commercial properties build-to-suit and development opportunities. Fish has lived in Williamsport for a long time and loves showing off the Marcellus Energy Park because of the jobs it has helped to create for his community. When development started, Fish knew there was going to be a need for companies to invest in warehouses and business parks where they could stage their operations.
The land the Marcellus Energy Park sits on used to be owned by the Chamber of Commerce and they gave us a very good arrangement on the land because they knew that we would create the facilities to bring the jobs to the area. And, now we have 300 or 400 people that are employed just in this one little area that are living in the community, buying goods in the community and that’s what economic development is. – Brent M. Fish
This industrial park is a joint venture with the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, as Jason Fink describes in the next video.
Fish and Fink both describe the Marcellus Energy Park as a perfect place for any natural gas development businesses to set up shop in the Williamsport area. Here are some of the things they say it offers:
- Over 100 acres of usable land in Muncy, PA – just east of Williamsport.
- Zoned Heavy Industrial.
- All properties designed and built to suit with quality contractors and engineers.
- Easy Interstate Access, 1.4 miles from Interstate 180 interchange – good road networks.
- Choose any lot size from 3-30 acres with any size building.
- All utilities available – public water, sewer, gas, & electric.
- Major oil & gas companies committed, others within a short distance.
- Most central location within the upper half of the Marcellus Shale play.
- Rail aspur design & construction is under way.
- A tax free Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ). Major tax abatements until 2017.
- Significant amount of housing and amenities in the region.
- Vast pool of available quality workforce to pull from.
The Marcellus Energy Park, dedicated to providing family sustaining jobs is well underway. The 165 acre facility is located next to the Muncy Industrial Park and is a true testament to the private sector working to create jobs in cooperation with public entities.
Conveniently located in eastern Lycoming County just off of route 180 it’s easy to see why the Marcellus Energy Park has been the choice for large multi-billion public and private corporations already.
Another project Fish has launched is a water withdrawal site on the park’s premises. The owners have already recieved clearance from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission for the water withdrawal and once the facility is finished they will be able to provide hydraulic fracturing companies with resources to complete their jobs.
Blackhawk Specialty Tools
Among the businesses located in the Marcellus Energy Park is Blackhawk, which offers solutions for safe well bore cementing that protects subsurface ground water. Their District Manager, Joe Chenier, took us onto the floor where we had the opportunity to further understand how the cementing process takes place during the development process of a well.
Allison Crane & Rigging
The film crew also had the opportunity to meet with Larry Allison, owner of Allison Crane & Rigging, and tour one of his facilities in Lycoming County. This is a local company that has seen tremendous impacts since the start of natural gas development in the region. Allison had 12 cranes prior to the natural gas boom and has since increased to 30 cranes. He has hired over 100 local individuals and has contracts with over 100 companies in the natural gas industry. Aside from Cranes, the company also ventures into some development and hauls equipment and water for well sites. In the following two videos, Allison describes his company’s growth and the mentoring employees undergo to ensure they are thoroughly trained in safety and operations–often a full year of training–before ever stepping foot out of the yard.
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Looking to the Future
This natural gas boom isn’t just about today for those living in the natural gas region. The development of natural gas is opening doors for a transition off of our dependence on foreign fuel, lower energy costs, and a cleaner product to use in our vehicles and homes. I’ll end this with Jason Fink’s remarks on the planned new natural gas fired power plant Lycoming County will be getting in the near future and other benefits of not only developing, but using this resource that’s right in our backyards. Not much more needs to be said.
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