CALCUTTA - Jason Wilson, director of the governor's Office of Appalachia, spoke to local business leaders about the importance of being prepared for the shale and natural gas industry during a recent breakfast forum.
"State leaders are talking about us - cities like Wellsville, Lisbon and Hanoverton," Wilson said. "Where they used to talk about big towns, now they're talking about small towns."
Todd Alexander, president of the Board of Trustees of the East Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, said Wilson discussed the importance of having quick supply chains, or ways to get raw materials and products a person needs to run a business.
"What happens with the oil and natural gas industry is you only get one or two chances with them," he said. "You need to know how to ramp up quickly."
Alexander compared this to running a bakery. "You don't necessarily go out and buy flour but you need to know where you can get it."
Alexander also said it's important for businesses to begin preparing now so that they're ready and can handle a large order. He mentioned a fifth-wheel trailer suppler he talked with in Pennsylvania who experienced a ten-fold increase in sales over the course of one year.
Wilson also highlighted some local projects the Office of Appalachia has been involved in, such as a $17,000 grant to the Second Harvest Food Bank to purchase a truck for its mobile pantry program and $30,000 grant to the YMCA East Liverpool and YMCA Wellness Center at St. John Arena to replace a turf field with an indoor sports court.
Penny Martin, a spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Development, described Wilson's role as "the region's voice to the governor" and said he is part of a task force Gov. John Kasich has put together to work on shale and natural gas issues.
The forum was sponsored by the Martin-MacLean-Altmeyer funeral homes, and was put on by the East Liverpool, St. Clair Township and Wellsville Area Chambers of Commerce. Alexander said previous forum speakers have included Linda Woggon, Executive Director of the Ohio Shale Coalition, State Sen. Lou Gentile and Thomas Humphries president and CEO of the Youngstown-Warren Chamber of Commerce.