Parker Burgs, West Virginia (PressExposure) July 24, 2011 -- Jefferson County is poised at the beginning of a boom that could last 30 years or more as drillers begin extracting natural gas from the Marcellus shale and petroleum from the deeper wells of the Utica shale.
That was the theme of a report by Donna Hrezo, small business hub coordinator for Progress Alliance, during the Progress Partners monthly meeting, held Tuesday afternoon in the J.C. Williams Center at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Hrezo and Salem Township Trustee Terry Bell attended a tour of Greene County in Southwestern Pennsylvania in late June.
She said from the tour and meetings with the county commissioners and others, it can be anticipated that Jefferson County is about to undergo a transformation.
"Greene County's economy is transforming from what they're expecting from the Marcellus drilling," she said. "The amount of wealth they're receiving is life-changing."
Marcellus drilling is getting under way this summer in many places in Jefferson County after mineral rights contracts and deals were being made for much of the past year.
Hrezo said among the findings on her tour is a need for local property owners to be prepared with remodeled and ready homes and apartments to rent. She suggested getting to work immediately on getting properties ready.
"There is no time to wait until they come. They need properties that are ready," she said.
Hrezo said a Penn State University study found that while the drilling jobs are staffed by out-of-state workers, the rest of the support jobs are staffed in the local economy. She said there are more than 150 vocations involved directly in the life cycle of a well, and an average of 420 people are employed because of a single well.
"The good news is that most of the jobs are not on the drill rigs," she said.