When preparing for the increased demands and economic benefits due to Utica Shale development, TuscarawasCounty is ahead of the curve. This is thanks in part to a chance meeting that Harry Eadon, President and Executive Director of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County, had with an oil and gas supplier in the middle of 2011. Since then, Tuscarawas County has been busy planning meetings and working with the Eastern Ohio Development Alliance (EODA) to prepare for the positive changes Utica Shale development has had and will continue to have on the region.
When Utica Shale development was still in its infancy, Harry Eadon was visited by a gentleman who was with an oil and gas supplier. During their breakfast many topics were broached, including locating the best places to acquire goods and services in Tuscarawas County. The conversation turned to what Tuscarawas County will look like in the next 5-10 years. The gentleman told Mr. Eadon that the area would be a much busier area, with restaurants on waits instead of half full.
Due to his role with the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County, and recognizing the increased activity in the Utica Shale in surrounding counties, Mr. Eadon saw this as a call to action. The Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County developed an app for companies looking to purchase goods and services in the county called POGO (Potential Oil and Gas Opportunities) and started an oil and gas committee.
Looking for a catchier name, the oil and gas committee quickly morphed into the Tuscarawas Oil and Gas Alliance — or TOGA — in early 2012 and gained a dynamic Co-Chair, Mike Lauber, President of Tusco Display. From there, TOGA planned its first event in early June. The purpose of the event was to learn about the industry from individuals like Rhonda Reda of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program and Dr. Bob Chase, Chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department at Marietta College, as well as commissioners from Pennsylvania and other economic development professionals.
“TOGA, what we call our oil and gas alliance, was created primarily because of an effort to try to make this region the most attractive region for oil and gas businesses to settle here. Since we created TOGA we’ve seen almost 50 businesses or actually 50 businesses settle here in TuscarawasCounty. All of them oil and gas businesses or oil and gas related businesses.”- Harry Eadon, President and Executive Director of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of TuscarawasCounty and Co-Chair of TOGA
Since the June 2012 event, TOGA has remained an active partner with EODA to develop a real estate inventory list of available commercial properties for oil and gas related businesses to locate in the 16 county eastern Ohio region. EODA has listed the properties on their website and held events in Pittsburgh, Columbus and outside of Cleveland for commercial realtors.
“We’re really quite excited about the opportunity to continue those efforts and looking at it from several different perspectives, from the real estate perspective, from educational perspective, from quality of life/tourism, from the business perspective. How do our incumbent businesses cooperate or collaborate with the new businesses coming in. So we’re really excited with the opportunity to continue doing that. We have have an event coming up on January 31st, 2014 at the KentState, Tuscarawas Campus. That event is dubbed Utica 2020”- Harry Eadon, President and Executive Director of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County and Co-Chair of TOGA
UTICA 2020 will be held this Friday as a way to look even further into the future about benefitting from the growth occurring from Utica Shale development. The event is focused on the counties in eastern Ohio and will offer a different outward looking perspective.
The fast paced presentations, resembling the popular “TED Talks,” will focus not only on development of oil and gas, but on midstream and downstream industries that will be locating in the region.
The intent of UTICA 2020 is to create an educated public to spur innovation. With over 300 attendees expected to participate, the stage is set for another successful event.
The hard work of TOGA and the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County is paying off. Since that breakfast meeting in 2011, Tuscarawas has courted 50 new businesses related to the oil and gas industry, including Schlumberger, who will be creating 200 jobs, and Kinder Morgan / MarkWest, which is planning to build a natural gas processing facility in the county.
It is always great to see the progress that can be made when a county and region is welcoming to an industry. By planning for the future in order to capture as much economic benefit as possible, TOGA and EODA are making the best out the enormous opportunities provided by Utica Shale development.