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Consumers foresee economic opportunities

Published: Fri, February 1, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Staff report


A survey of consumers in three states found that 60 percent believe the growing oil and gas industry will provide economic opportunity in the areas in which they live.

The survey, conducted on behalf of Huntington National Bank as part of its Midwest Economic Index, an effort to better understand the markets it serves, found similar results in areas with the most exploration activity.

In Ohio, 58 percent of respondents agreed that the industry would bring opportunity, with 15 percent of those saying it would be a significant opportunity, while 42 percent said they did not see it bringing economic opportunity to their communities.

In western Pennsylvania, where more development has occurred, 79 percent of respondents said the new industry would bring opportunity to the area. Of those, 24 percent said it would be significant, while 21 percent saw no local economic growth from the industry.

Results in West Virginia were similar, where 75 percent of respondents believe it will provide economic opportunity. Of those, 24 percent saw significant opportunity, while 25 percent did not see any economic impact.

“While many inside and outside of the energy industry are predicting growth, we wanted to find out how the residents of our markets perceive the potential economic impact of the industry on their communities,” said Steve Steinour, president and chief executive of Huntington.

Steinour added that with manufacturing growing again and employment in these areas outpacing the national economic recovery, the time was right to survey residents on the industry.

Midwestern growth tied to Utica and Marcellus shale and other natural-gas production is expected to skyrocket over the next 25 years. Huntington has announced plans to expand commercial banking services for the energy sector across its markets.

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