Local firms adding jobs to serve shale gas industry

Source: Dayton Daily News


A Springboro construction company and a Washington Twp. engineering firm are among Dayton area companies already expanding payrolls to serve the developing shale gas industry in eastern Ohio, a trend that means more jobs and income for the Miami Valley.

Industry projections say tens of thousands of jobs and billions in income are at stake as natural gas and industrial liquids trapped a mile and more deep under the earth’s surface are extracted from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations.

Hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas has generated opposition from critics who say it threatens drinking water wells and requires huge resources, such as water. Proponents say the process, when well-managed, is safe.

The Dayton Chamber of Commerce is hosting its first Industry Supply Chain Forum beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 33 E. Fifth St., to connect local businesses to potential growth that Gov. John Kasich has said promises to be a transformational for Ohio industry.

While southwestern Ohio and the Dayton region are considered poor prospects for natural gas drilling because of the the geology here, many local companies could benefit from being part of a large supply chain, said Chamber Vice President Chris Kershner.

Prime local industries include the construction trades and trucking because of the intensive transportation requirements in setting up and servicing drilling rigs. Technicians, environmental consultants and support services including medical fields should also benefit, Kershner said. Surveyors, engineers, excavators, construction companies, and other related companies are encouraged to attend.

Todd Kelchner, CEO of Kelchner Excavating in Springboro, is helping build and maintain drilling sites, improving county and township roads for heavy truck traffic. He estimates in Ohio his company has hired 80 employees to service shale in Eastern Ohio. Kelchner opened a new office in Oklahoma for 75 workers there.

David Oakes, president of Centerville engineering firm CESO, is a speaker at Tuesday’s forum. CESO has a 15-person office in Canton in 2011 that serves the oil and gas industry. Energy firms including Chesapeake Energy Corp. have hired CESO to help with governmental relations at the township, county and state levels, Oakes said.

CESO handles drill site preparation, pipeline design and roadway planning and design. In all, CESO has hired 100 engineers, surveyors, inspectors and designers since 2011 because of shale development, Oakes added.

Earlier this month, the Dayton Daily News reported that the state decertified TesTech, an Oakes company, from participating in federal disadvantaged business enterprise programs.

Estimates from the industry-sponsored Ohio Shale Coalition have projected potential job creation of up to 65,680 by 2014 with wage and benefits valued at $3.3 billion, although other studies project smaller figures.

To sign up for the forum, call (937)226-1444 or go online at www.daytonchamber.org