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Interview With Eric Planey, Vice Present of International Business Attraction

By On November 29, 2011 12:09 pm


energy Interview With Eric Planey, Vice Present of International Business Attraction

 

On Wednesday, November 30, hundreds of people are expected to attend the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Youngstown Ohio Utica & Natural Gas (YOUNG) 2011 Conference & Expo.
What is the significance of this particular expo in Ohio’s future with the Utica play?

Eric Planey, Vice-President of International Business Attraction, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and Co-Chair, Cleveland-Pittsburgh TechBelt Initiative talked with TheMarcellusShale about his expectations for Y.O.U.N.G. and how it will be a key event in the growth of the natural gas industry for Ohio.

 

TMS:
This must be exciting for you, Eric– Ohio’s first natural gas conference!
There is a sense that this is something historical happening.  Why this particular conference now—at this time?  What is going on in Ohio to make this happen
?

E.P.:
We are seeing a resurgence in the Mahoning Valley (anchored by Youngstown and Warren) as this region sees significant supply chain growth in manufacturing for the shale industry. We had over $750 million in investment announcements in the last 24 months and we expect more soon.

TMS:
Briefly talk about why the focus is on Utica Shale at this conference and  not as much on Marcellus Shale.   Geographically, what’s the significance of Utica for Ohio?

E.P.
A few months ago, the general public was beginning to be made aware of Marcellus, but not so much Utica.  Now it’s different; everybody knows about Utica as landowners in eastern Ohio have been approached about drilling. So the conference is about Marcellus and Utica, but we decided to really focus on Utica in the name of the event as it’s the first one dedicated to that play (and plus the name is catchy!).

TMS:
Discuss what your hopes and expectations are for this conference.  What are some of the initiatives, goals, or results that you would like to see come from this event?

E.P.
We have several goals.  One is to be a forum for the public so they can be educated as to what the fracking industry is about from a technology standpoint, a business standpoint, and a macroeconomic standpoint.

Also, we want the Mahoning Valley and the YOUNG to be a conduit for the industry to match up with local suppliers so that further development of our region’s economy will occur. And it’s about telling people the story of how we as a community have thought out of the box for a decade now, and as a result we are seeing significant investment.

TMS:
When and how did the idea and implementation for this event happen?   Did it come out of a meeting of key gas members?   Was it seeing the success of other gas and oil expos in PA? 

E.P.
No, we decided at the Chamber back in midsummer that we needed a significant event to show the industry that the Mahoning Valley will embrace the sustainable growth of the shale extraction industry, and that we have a track record of recent accomplishments that have been made in the supply chain. We certainly were cognizant about the other shows in PA, and thought there needed to be one on this side of the border.

TMS:
What are some of the organizations that are central to the planning and implementation of this event?

E.P.
Well, our sponsors were very key!  V&M Star, the Plumbers and Pipefitters (through the hard work of Butch Taylor), and Chesapeake all came in very early as sponsors, and that was key for us. And I love the fact that all three represent different but essential aspects of a cohesive industry!

TMS:
What type of demographic do you anticipate will want to come to this event besides company reps who want to promote their businesses?  What about those people who might be more focused on the environmental issues?   And will it hold interest for the general public?

E.P.
We expect a good turnout for the public session (we don’t have numbers as registration was not required). But we want interaction among businesses, landowners, skilled labor, and the public. We will have some announcements that will certainly address this region’s ability to be a part of environmental solutions for the industry.

TMS:
Looking into 2012 do you believe Ohio will see more of these types of events?

E.P.
I do. We are already receiving deposits for our 2012 event which shows the demand is there. This conference is about the industry in the whole state, but we really look at counties including Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana as where we will put our focus.

TMS:
Do you hope this event will catch the attention of Ohio legislators who need to understand the significance of the natural gas industry?

E.P.
It has caught their attention.  We’re pleased the legislators have already been very aware of key issues, and we hope to take it forward.

TMS:
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being the earliest stage), can you roughly say what is the “maturity” of the Utica/Marcellus Shale industry in Ohio?   Would you say it’s still in its infancy or has it grown past that point?

E.P.
Maybe a 4. I only say that because there is so much potential for growth, and we need to identify it.