When the financial storm better known as the Great Recession took root in 2007, the nation’s robust construction industry took a direct hit. The economic meltdown forced businesses to halt expansion and relocation plans, and new housing construction also slowed. The impact was felt locally as well, with larger construction projects across the region coming to a standstill. A few exceptions included new school construction projects that were already funded, such as the River View High School facility in McDowell County and the PikeView Middle School project in Mercer County.
Today, as the national economy continues to whimper along at a disappointing pace, the Mountain State’s construction industry is reporting a welcomed lift from the emerging Marcellus Shale drilling boom. The state’s construction industry employed 36,700 in June, which is up from 34,100 in June 2011, according to a recent report by the Associated General Contractors of America.
Mike Clowers, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, is crediting the growth to the vast Marcellus Shale field. For example, he says water and sewer contractors are putting in lines, highway contractors are putting in roads and aggregate suppliers are providing stone to the oil and gas industry. Many in the industry are crediting the Marcellus Shale boom with the welcomed revitalization. The Associated Press reported last week that private nonresidential construction spending in West Virginia is also up 14 percent.
“With the fracking in West Virginia and neighboring parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania and interest in the chemical companies to put in ethane crackers … nonresidential could benefit,” Associated General Contractors of America’s Chief Economist Ken Simonson said.
We find it rather interesting that the rise of fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil is helping to spur an economic revitalization in West Virginia. Those in Washington who are trying to do away with our abundant fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas in favor of largely unproven green energy sources should take notice. We welcome the Marcellus Shale drilling boom. What is good for northern West Virginia is also good for southern West Virginia.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 12, 2012