Business cards and resumes were being exchanged at a steady pace early Monday, as hundreds filed into the Boardman Holiday Inn with the hopes of landing a coveted job in Ohio’s growing oil and gas industry.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, joined forces with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber to host one of the Mahoning Valley’s first high-profile energy-job fairs.
The event, which took place throughout the day, attracted a constellation of companies working both directly and indirectly in the oil and gas industry.
In all, Portman’s staff said that by 10 a.m., more than 700 job-seekers had filled two banquet rooms at the hotel where 27 companies and 17 educational institutions were on hand.
“The first thing I did was thank our partners. We’re really bringing people through here, and exciting things are happening,” Portman said amid a packed room. “I love the fact we’ve got oil and gas coming back to Ohio, but I don’t love all the out-of-state license plates I’ve been seeing. We want Ohioans to get these jobs.”
The companies in attendance Monday were hoping for the same.
Kristopher Carroll, chief executive of KK&C Endeavors, a land-services company based in Canton, joined the educational tables. He was pitching classes that teach landmen how to secure leases for oil and gas companies.
When Carroll arrived in Ohio from Wyoming in 2007 to start his company, he had difficulty finding good help that understood the business. He now offers a 40-hour class in Canton about the job, with plans to begin offering the same in Youngstown. KK&C already had talked with about 20 interested parties early Monday.
Natural-gas company Chesapeake Energy, the Utica Shale’s largest leaseholder, and Enervest Energy, both exploration and production companies, were in attendance. Their tables were so overwhelmed with interest that people had formed multiple lines to meet with recruiters.
Rodney Ribble, 63, who used to work for production companies, was eager to get a chance to chat with Enervest. He said his age made it difficult to find a new job and he was glad for the energy fair — the first he’d attended in the Valley.
Meanwhile, Tom Degnan, 49, of Austintown, said he was impressed with the job fair.
“It seems like they’ve really got their bases covered,” said Degnan, who was waiting to talk with Chesapeake about transportation and logistics opportunities.
He added that the energy fair was proof that more shale-related jobs are becoming available across the state.
A study released in December by energy-research firm IHS CERA showed the oil and gas industry already has generated more than 38,000 jobs in Ohio. The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber estimates that about 1,500 indirect jobs have been created throughout the region as a result of the industry’s supply-chain needs.
Portman, who introduced legislation last week that would make federal job- training programs more efficient, said more needs to be done. He said if Monday’s event proved a success, his office would help spearhead similar events.