Sunday, June 05, 2011

Seeking Marcellus Shale Dividend

I'm convinced that unconventional gas is boosting employment in Pennsylvania. I'm almost as sure that the more significant jobs (and migration) boom is yet to come. The war between Ohio and West Virginia for Marcellus Shale-related riches:

[Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha,] said, "Ohio is making a not-so-subtle jab at West Virginia. If you see our Marcellus Shale act, we made a shot across the bow in the Legislature this session, saying to industry, 'We want you to aggressively look at West Virginia -- not just to locate a cracker, but all of the downstream facilities that will be provided with feedstock from that cracker.' The stakes are really high. This [Ohio press release] is an example of what's going on out there. This is a huge deal and we have to find a way to be successful. This legislation was a significant first step."

I figure that downstream industries are the big economic prize. West Virginia is positioning itself to be the next Chemical Valley with Pittsburgh as Sarnia, Ontario. Take a look at that job cluster from Wired I referenced yesterday. Pittsburgh makes the cut in what I first thought was IT growth. On second glance, I gather the circle represents a gain of over 500 chemical positions from 2003-2008. Not "Medical Technologies, nor "Biopharma", or even the "Metals" cluster that is emerging in Akron, Ohio.

Pre-Marcellus Shale rush, chemicals were already a big part of the Pittsburgh picture. I would conclude that the necessary workforce is in the region and that the innovation infrastructure is world class. Get ready for the influx of people from Houston that will be pouring into the region over the next few years. Given the anecdotal evidence, I think the move is already underway.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Developing these natural gas finds should be a top priority at the national and regional level. Developing this clean, domestic source of energy would revitalize this part of the country and reduce US dependence on foreign energy sources. Having the fields be so close to a majority of the country's population is a huge positive as well.