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Researchers: Shale, $6 billion economic impact on Washington County

Apr 09, 2015

$410-million state and local government revenue; 10,000 jobs

Six billion dollars and nearly 20-percent of the county’s total economic output – that’s the incredible economic impact of natural gas production in Washington County, Pennsylvania over the course of just three years. Those numbers are the results of a study released by the Center for Energy Policy and Management at Washington and Jefferson College. Researchers looked at a three-year time period in the county.  Their findings resulted in an amount that no one could have foreseen being injected into the county less than a decade ago. And it’s a windfall that’s been accompanied by thousands of new, family-sustaining jobs in Washington County, where the development of the Marcellus Shale is driving growth, productivity and prosperity in an area that’s seen its share of hard times in recent history.



Speaking at a press conference announcing the findings, Jeff Kotula, President of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce said, “The Washington & Jefferson study really proves what we’ve witnessed firsthand in Washington County. The natural gas industry is creating new opportunities for our businesses and residents. The real takeaway is finding even more ways to build upon this resource and further develop the region as a true energy and diverse manufacturing hub for future generations.” 

Table7In addition to the enormous economic engine powered by shale gas development, natural gas production in Washington County and its municipalities generated more than $410 million in revenues: $350 million in state and local tax revenues generated by the industry, $41 million in Marcellus Shale impact fee taxes, and $19 million in lease and royalty payments for taxpayer-owned county properties. This does not include additional lease and royalty payments that individual municipalities and school districts have generated, which amounts to millions of additional dollars in taxpayer coffers.

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In a few short years the shale gas industry went from virtually no jobs to more than 10,000 family-sustaining jobs as of 2013. Those jobs account for nearly ten-percent of the total county employment. 

The study also found that “one specific development that is emblematic of Washington County’s strong, diversified economy is the Southpointe Business Park.” In 2007, Range was the first company to open an office in the park dedicated to Marcellus Shale development. Just a few years later, the study found that “fifty-percent of the survey respondents were influenced by the Marcellus Shale development to locate or stay in Southpointe.”

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In addition to total output and employment, shale drilling activities were found to have influenced other economic activities of Washington County. These findings are reflected in the following economic indicators: income from rents, royalties, patents, and copyrights, hotel occupancy tax revenue, housing prices, real estate tax revenue, sales tax revenue, and financial service activities.

The total number of shale wells spudded during the three year period in Washington County represented 7.9%, 14.4%, and 18.2% of the total number of wells spudded in Pennsylvania respectively, reflecting the growing role of Washington County in Pennsylvania’s shale resource development.

Additional findings focused on how Washington County can continue to reap the benefits of natural gas development.  Among the recommendations, “If Washington County wants to retain the benefits of this industry; it should provide opportunities and an environment that encourages individuals to spend money locally and unconventional gas producers to localize their operations. There are several ways to increase the county impact even further. The most important is to build a comprehensive local and regional supply chain. It is also important to encourage more shale gas and other related companies to set up their corporate or regional headquarters in the county.” 

Range is committed to investing in the areas where we operate and to working with local companies and suppliers whenever possible. More information can be found in the Local Sourcing section of the website. Range has a proud record of working with local businesses across our areas of operation. This maximizes shared benefits and helps to improve local employment through a comprehensive Contractor Management Plan. This procurement system identifies and engages local companies and individuals to support our operations. Range hosts regular open houses for existing and potential local sourcing partners. The company has also helped lead several grassroots efforts to enhance local employment and economic growth opportunities, where the majority of Range’s current development activities take place.

This academic project was made possible by the support of the Center for Energy Policy and Management at Washington & Jefferson College, the MSC Foundation, and the Washington County Energy Partners.

Read the full study here: An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Unconventional Shale Development in Washington County, Pennsylvania

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