With Chesapeake Energy’s announcement last month that exploratory shale gas wells in Northeast Ohio have shown promising returns, cities and municipalities in the region are beginning to prepare for the boom times to come. The Cleveland Plain Dealer published a great article this weekend that helps to show the human component of this economic success story. The stories told here should be at the center of policymakers’ minds when they consider the industry’s expansion in their states.
The author talks to Donna Sauer, the owner of Donna’s Deli in Carrolltown, OH, where she serves hungry oil and gas industry workers “second helpings of her mom’s homemade pumpkin pie” during the lunchtime rush:
Donna’s Deli stands across the village square from the county courthouse, where land men are poring over maps and deeds to research mineral rights to land tracts. She also draws roughnecks from the rigs and the surveyors and petroleum engineers far from home.
“They have just been the nicest people, really,” she said. “Extremely courteous. We’re happy they’re here, and they’re happy to be here.”
Their arrival sparked her newest venture. She and her husband, Paul, bought a duplex, which they plan to renovate to lease to gas workers.
There’s only one hotel in Carrollton, a village of 3,000. Good luck booking a room.
Sauer is just one example of the local small business owners who stand to benefit from the shale gas industry, but reading the article in its entirety can give you a sense of how shale gas investments can support a wide range of industries and jobs somewhat disconnected from the industry itself, including steel producers, car dealers, and rail yard workers.
As the article goes on to explain, there will be some growing pains in these communities but we shouldn’t look at these issues as reason enough for disengagement. The benefits are real, if temporary, and can encourage investment in economically depressed regions like Carroll County.