Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

Recently, a Williamsport community organization called Technology Futures held a workshop in cooperation with extension, natural gas companies, and realtors, focusing on doing business in a gas economy.

“We expected 70 or 80 people to show up, but we ended up with 150 and had to turn people away,” says Vince Matteo, president/CEO of the Williamsport Lycoming Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the Lycoming County Community Gas Task Force. “That kind of attendance has been typical with educational meetings focused on natural gas.”

The Lycoming County Community Gas Task Force works closely with Cooperative Extension, sharing information on how to best get the word out about the types of employees needed in the natural gas industry. ”We all know each other and we all talk to each other, and that cooperative approach is to everyone’s advantage,” says Matteo. “For instance, our task force has not done a lot of public education because extension is doing it, and doing a fine job. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”

Lycoming County has seen an increase in activity because of the natural gas boom. Several service companies that support the gas industry, such as hydrofracturing companies and sand companies, are leasing work space. Hotels, restaurants, and apartments also have seen increases in business.

“So far, the effect on the local economy has been positive,” Matteo says. “We know that in the future, some of our local businesses might be threatened if employees go to work for the gas industry, and we know our roads will get beat up. But some of the work extension has done, along with our gas task force, is helping us keep ahead of the curve. We are cooperating to identify ways to be ready for the changes to come.”

Written by Krista Weidner.