Written By: Cindy Bond, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development
Rural communities in Eastern Ohio are experiencing a sudden impact as a result of the development of the Shale Energy development. Shale development in these communities impacts their structure through the influx of new, often temporary workers, challenging existing community dynamics and the ability to meet these needs. The economic development in these communities is an important topic of conversation.
Local communities, counties, chambers of commerce, small businesses and, large companies from the oil and gas industries, and even individual residents play an important role in the ongoing development of the area. It is important for constant communication and long-term strategic planning to be shared among these stakeholders, as all may benefit from the sustainable economic development of the communities in the shale production area. By building linkages and alliances between communities, the shared interests of the area can be maintained on a region-wide basis. As communities and counties invest in local infrastructure, it is important to keep two pieces of information in mind in order to proceed with a long-term perspective. First, the shale activity will eventually begin to decline and revenues will also decrease at that time. Second, the local population will likely also decline as production decreases, as workers in the oil and gas industries are gradually displaced and move on to other opportunities. While tax dollars are flowing into local communities, it is important to use the investment wisely.
Planning efforts should keep a medium- to long-term perspective. Sustainable infrastructure is also important. These efforts can keep current residents from leaving and even attract new residents to the small communities. Citizen engagement is an important facet of the sustainable economic development of the communities. By participating in strategic planning processes and holding leaders accountable for established strategic planning goals, local residents can ensure that the communities are maintaining a long-term perspective and creating a local environment that will continue to attract and retain residents in the future. OSU Extension offers strategic and long term planning for communities. If you are interested in learning more please contact a member of the Energize Ohio team for more information.