STEUBENVILLE - A Pennsylvania official is advising area business leaders to "be quick to react, but be conservative" as they find their niche in the oil and gas industry.
Washington County, Pa., Commissioner Harlan G. Shober Jr. said the industry values vendors who understand theirs is not a 9-to-5 kind of business and are prepared to respond. Yet at the same time, he said sudden changes in drilling patterns can wreak havoc and cautioned business owners against over-committing resources.
"You have to be quick to respond because someone else will be there" if you don't, he said. "So be quick to react, but be conservative."
Shober was one of 15 industry experts taking part in Monday's seminar "Benefiting from the Boom" at the Steubenville Country Club. Sponsored by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and Progress Alliance, its focus was to help the business community "benefit from the boom."
Shober, a township supervisor prior to winning a seat on the Washington County Commission, told the roughly 100 business leaders in attendance that they need to "think beyond the gas impact."
"It's going to come, and it's going to come fast when it comes in," he said. "You want to prepare now, think about your business ... the companies are here now."
Jim Ladlee from Penn State University's Marcellus Center of Research told the group that to understand how to get involved in the oil and gas business, you first "have to know where you fit."
"Figure out not what you do, but how you fit within the" industry, he said, pointing out that "something as simple as porta-potties" can represent an enormous business opportunity.
Keynote speaker Tom Stewart, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said for the first time in decades "we've actually increased our ability to provide crude oil, dramatically increased our natural gas resource base."
"It wasn't supposed to happen. Just five or six years ago we were talking scarcity, a lot of doom and gloom," he said.
Stewart believes the region's oil and gas reserves in the Marcellus and Utica layers could bring the petrochemical industry back to U.S. shores, perhaps even the Ohio Valley, bringing jobs and a new revenue stream for beleaguered state and local governments.
He said the availability of abundant, affordable oil and gas is already yielding big savings for its residential and business customers and appears destined to be "a win for the state of Ohio."