The line to speak to officials from Chesapeake Energy stretches out the door at the job fair that was part of the Columbiana County Economic Development Summit. The event had filled the parking lot at the East Liverpool Motor Lodge well before the fair’s 10 a.m. Monday start.
By Burton Speakman
The line of job seekers rushed as the doors were opened for the job fair that was part of the 2012 Columbiana County Economic Development Summit.
The line formed quickly in front of Chesapeake Energy, with the majority of people wanting to speak to oil and gas companies.
There were only two such companies at the job fair, Chesapeake and MarkWest Energy Partners. MarkWest is involved in the processing and transportation of oil and gas, while Chesapeake focused on drilling and producing.
The parking lot was full at the summit site at the East Liverpool Motor Lodge well before the 10 a.m. start.
Elvis Ruton of East Liverpool said he wanted to talk to the oil and gas companies because he was looking to get out of the steel industry. He currently works as a hot-metal crane operator.
“I’m trying to get out of a dying business,” he said. “I want to find something that pays close to what I get paid now.”
Only the energy companies at the job fair would pay $17 an hour, Ruton said.
Rick Beadles of Salem was also in line for Chesapeake. He will retire in a few weeks from the military and is looking for a second career.
“After 25 to 26 years in the military, it’s new to be out looking for a job,” he said.
One of the youngest people at the job fair was 18-year-old Kyle Temple, of Lisbon, who was also part of the Chesapeake line.
“Most of the people my age are going to college, but I’m just looking to work,” he said.
Temple said was looking for general laborer or any type of job in the field.
The shale work is the next big thing for jobs locally, said Vince Fusco of Youngstown, as he waited to speak with Chesapeake representatives.
Fusco was not limiting his search to the oil and gas industry though, he said. He was also looking for opportunities in sales and marketing.
MarkWest is hiring for positions in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Southeastern Ohio, said Anne Wheeler, human resources manager for the Denver-based company.
“Most of our work in Ohio at this time is south of here [Columbiana County],” she said.
MarkWest though recently signed a distribution deal with Chesapeake that likely result in future hiring in this area, Wheeler said.
There are some skills such as being a worker at a steel mill, power plant or working with compressors that translate well to the oil and gas industry.
Manufacturing businesses were represented at the job fair by the Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition.
The group came with a list of all its members’ job listings, said Executive Director Jessica Borza.
It was important to come to this event to represent manufacturing, particularly with the oil and gas industry needing workers who posses the same types of skills, Borza said.
There were expected to be 1,500 to 2,000 people attending the job fair portion of the event, said Randy Allmon, president of the Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce.
The economic summit portion of the event is designed to focus on the businesses working in Columbiana County and the opportunities available to them, he said. It provided a lot of information about oil and gas businesses.
Columbiana County has lot of advantages in terms of shale development. The county has one of the largest ports on the Ohio River, said Tracy V. Drake, chief executive officer for the Columbiana County Port Authority. The river provides good water access and there is good highway availability in the county.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, spoke at the economic summit. He focused on how Ohio will lead the way in terms of oil and gas development.
“The technology and how it will advance will be unbelievable,” he said.
The key is developing the shale and ensuring that local workers receive the training needed to work in the industry, Johnson said.
“We’re sitting on what a lot of experts call the largest volume of gas and oil in the world,” he said.
The summit continues today at the East Liverpool Motor Lodge.