Productive and well received project regional launch meetings, data development and team planning activities sum up initial progress on “Building Sustainable Communities in Ohio’s Shale Region: Leveraging Manufacturing Clusters and Local Assets with Strategic Planning”, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). EDA approved a $199,766 grant to The Ohio State University Extension and four regional Economic Development Districts (EDDs), including Buckeye Hills- Hocking Valley Regional Development District, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization, and Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association to embark on research-based strategic planning in this 25-county shale-impacted region.
Project activities began in October 2013 with grant administration preparation, data mining and team organization. Although a delay in receiving final grant agreement extended into December, the team began initial grant steps to stay on target with the approved project timeline. Scope of work activities included in the grant are:
- Conduct an advanced industry cluster analysis
- Conduct an industry capacity assessment
- Implement a sustainable strategic shale energy planning process
- Establish implementation strategies
- Prepare a written report for the Economic Development Administration
A multi-programmatic Extension project team meets monthly to update on committee progress, concentrating on the economic, social and environmental changes taking place in the shale-impacted region of eastern and southern Ohio. How the 25-county region is impacted by the shale play and how they can, in turn, be proactive in their responsive approach to the potential evitable downside of the energy boom, is the focus of this project.
Launch meetings were held with the four partner EDDs in late February and early March, 2014. Extension team members provided an overview of the project, methodology, timeline and initial data analysis findings. About 30 participants attended the meetings. An evaluation of the program participants resulted in positive findings, including almost 100% indicating they have a better understanding of the plan of work, the impact of shale development and the role they will play in the planning process. One participant commented, “This was a great meeting to get started in the planning of this grant project. The group and the topic have a lot momentum right now and the results will be very beneficial to the entire region.”
Written by Nancy Bowen, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics