The "renaissance of American manufacturing" comes to America's "Rust Belt."
National Public Radio
-- "A natural gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania is helping the economies of Rust Belt cities long accustomed to bad news. Drilling requires steel — lots of it — and that has manufacturers expanding and hiring new workers.
While much attention has been paid to the environmental risks of drilling into the Marcellus Shale, the economic benefits have been less prominent in the national discussion. But in Youngstown, Ohio, locals have been watching an old industry come back to life.
The Brier Hill neighborhood, northwest of downtown Youngstown, has been relatively quiet for the past few decades since the huge steel mills there shut down. But today it's noisy again, with trains passing each other on the tracks and heavy construction under way.
"What's really exciting to me is that for many, many years this area was the poster child for the Rust Belt economy," says Walter Good, vice president of economic development for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. It's his job to attract new companies, and the natural gas drilling boom in nearby Pennsylvania is making that a lot easier. "The phone is definitely ringing more," Good says.
In January through August of this year, 1,242 wells were drilled into the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania alone. Each one needs thousands of feet of steel pipe. That's why the French company Vallourec is building a new $650 million mill in Youngstown. The green-roofed facility is huge — about 1 million square feet.
Joel Mastervich, the president and COO of Vallourec's U.S. company, V&M Star, says Youngstown was an attractive place to build the new seamless pipe mill because the infrastructure and experienced workforce are already in place. Plus, it's close to the Marcellus Shale.
"We'll be able to produce the pipe, finish it here and send it to a customer that's, maybe, 100 miles away," says Mastervich.
Production is expected to begin in a few months, but already the Brier Hill neighborhood is perking back up. Stacey Seidita recently opened a sandwich shop in a brick building that had been empty for years. With about 1,000 construction workers building the mill and the promise of 350 permanent workers down the road, launching her business now made sense."
MP: The chart above shows the huge surge in Pennsylvania for jobs related directly to the natural gas drilling boom (employment has almost doubled since 2003), which has also created indirect jobs throughout the Marcellus region. The story above highlights the increased employment and investment in Ohio's steel industry due to the gas revolution in neighboring Pennsylvania, which is also helping bring opportunities in supporting industries like restaurants and sandwich shops in both states.