Businesses Gather to Navigate Natural Gas Opportunities

Local and regional businesses gathered Wednesday at Fellows Riverside Gardens in Youngstown to discuss upcoming business opportunities in the natural gas drilling industry.

The event, hosted by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, highlighted local businesses that have already invested in the local natural gas industry and what the prospects are for others looking to find their niche in future prospects.

Chris Jaskiewicz, senior vice president and chief operating officer of VEC Inc. and Events Oil and Gas Construction in Girard said despite conflicting reports about the waning Utica shale prospects, once estimated at more than $500 billion in Ohio, businesses are moving to the area and investing money in the Valley.

“It’s companies like Exterran that moved up here from Houston and chose Youngstown,” said Jaskiewicz. “What’s in the works is about $10.2 billion of processing plants and transmission lines they are going to run through eastern Ohio and the Mahoning Valley specifically.”

It’s those numbers that business leaders at Wednesday’s meeting want to hear. Jaskiewizc said that particular to the oil and gas industry, a lot of the growth is behind the scenes. He said many of the stations are in rural areas and the real growth to the economy that will be seen are the “additional hotels, people, trucks, and ancillary businesses that will come from the gas industry.”

“These companies know what’s down there. They are putting a lot of money into the Valley,” said Jaskiewicz.

Chris Kraft, CNG business development specialist at IGS Energy CNG Services in Dublin, Ohio talked with the group about compressed natural gas as an alternative fuel and his company’s investment in the Valley.

Plans were announced Tuesday for IGS Energy CNG Services to install a pair of natural gas filling pumps at the Mr. Fuel truck stop located in the already busy Salt Springs Road corridor near Interstate 80 in Weathersfield Township.

The cost of project is set at $2.5 million. Construction should begin later this year.

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