Monday, October 10, 2011

After The Energy Summit

Ohio Governor John Kasich hosted a two-day Energy and Economic Summit two weeks ago with many Licking County officials in attendance and, even, a big part of the program.
It’s clear that the oil and gas “boom” is coming to Eastern Ohio in some form. Here’s my observation: The impact here will be less measured in how many oil and gas wells are drilled here in Licking County (some will be and at least one Utica shale well already has been) but, instead, in how Licking County best capitalizes on the activity in other ways.

Capturing Ancillary Business. The supply chain is our Licking County niche. Bayer stands poised to use the wet gas product as a raw material for their compounding plant in Hebron. Marathon Oil’s Heath terminal likely has a role. The interstate gas lines can pump in reverse. These are a few thoughts. What can we do to help our economy with spin off work?

Capturing Workforce.  The average wage on an oil rig is $77,000 a year. Poaching of existing workers is a real threat to our existing companies. We, collectively, need to figure out how to make it an opportunity instead.  Our community needs to promote more and more ways to train our workforce with industry-in-demand skills.

Capturing Capital. A recent national op-ed in Forbes made a good point. With the land leases and soon-to-come flow of royalties into Eastern Ohio, a great number of Ohioans are going to be looking where to put their investment dollars. What can we in Licking County do to see it ends up in innovation and product development for our existing and prospective new companies?

Many at the Summit remarked that a Licking County-scaled version of the Energy Summit with a focus on how best to go about capturing economic impact from the oil and gas boom is a logical next step.

Just sparking the discussion a little.  Or so I hope.

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