Appalachian Basin

Youngstown City Council Votes ‘Yes’ on Return to Prosperity

For the city of Youngstown, Ohio, the Utica Shale has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Last night, after careful study, the Youngstown City Council voted overwhelmingly to permit leasing of the city’s land for oil and natural gas development in order to gain revenues to reduce blight throughout the state’s 9th largest metropolitan area.

The decision comes on the heels of weeks of testimonials and public comment, including input from Rhonda Reda of the and Mike Chadsey of EID among many others.

With Youngstown already benefiting from Utica Shale development, the agreement will allow for further opportunity to revitalize one of the state’s most proud and storied cities. Today, Ohio’s oil and gas industry is the driving force in an economic recovery that is quickly reducing the unemployment rates across the Mahoning Valley. We covered this in a previous blog post but are providing the numbers again for quick review.

Mahoning Valley/Youngstown-Warren Metro (Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana Counties)

7.8% Unemployment April, 2012

7.4% Unemployment May, 2012

Recent numbers show the jobless rate for the Youngstown Warren metro area dropped to its lowest point since October of 2008. Unemployment dropped to 7.4% for May, that’s compared to 7.8% in April.

Mahoning County saw the biggest change, improving seven tenths of a percent to 7.4%. Trumbull County’s unemployment is 7.2%, the lowest rate in the Valley.

Unemployment numbers for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana Counties are all down and below the national average.

(Jobs Ohio President Mark) Kvamme attributes the growth to eight major industries, including automotive with 50% of all auto workers employed in Ohio or within 500 miles of the border, polymer science with 9% of all U.S. industry jobs in the state, and energy with the state’s continued growth of Utica Shale development.

Kvamme said it’s still too early to tell the overall impact the Utica Shale industry will have on the state. Experts tell him once 100 wells are drilled; you know you have a well defined industry. Currently Ohio has about 30. (Unemployment down for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, 6/25/12)

This positive economic trend is being supported by billions in investments that are pouring into the region to support the state’s burgeoning oil and gas companies.

Some of these investments have already helped the City regain it’s identity as the region’s steel mills are once again humming with activity.

Long absent, the rebirth of the steel and manufacturing industries is breathing new life into Youngstown and is replenishing it’s workforce. With yesterday’s council announcement, Youngstown is now positioned to gain the resources it needs to revitalize areas of the City that have long been neglected.  As Bloomberg News reports, Youngstown had been seeking for ways to combat blight and restore the city’s brownfields, however it lacked the funding to do so.

The potential leasing mineral rights provides will go a long way in providing much needed revenue that will be used to remove blighted properties in the metro area. According to today’s CNBC report,  removal of 1,100 abandoned homes throughout the City would cost over $4 million.

With this move, lawmakers are seeking to alleviate that burden from the backs of the City’s taxpayers.

This could be something that could help the area not only now, but 10, 20, 50 years from now, just when the steel mills came here. – Mayor Charles Sammarone (2:06)

With this vote Youngstown’s council members have taken the appropriate steps to ensure the city continues to maximize the benefits of the Utica Shale.  Thank to the Council’s conscientious deliberation and careful study, the determination to allow the leasing of it’s land for energy exploration will further improve the quality of life and returned appeal of the community.

And it is thanks to the development of Ohio’s natural resources – thousands of feet below – that Youngstown is enjoying it’s restoration of prominence and prosperity. This is a good news story that many in the area have waited to receive for quite awhile.

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