WEIRTON - As the Marcellus shale draws various companies to the area, Weirton city officials are encouraging those employers to tap into another resource found in the Ohio Valley: the workforce.
Weirton City Council approved a resolution on Monday in support of the use of local workers as the natural gas industry develops. The resolution states the city supports the utilization of local workers in the construction of pipelines, drilling and processing of natural gas from Marcellus shale.
City Manager Valerie Means said she believes the resolution is clear.
"Of course we want these companies coming in to hire locally instead of bringing people in from out of state," she said. "We want jobs and we want them to go to local workers that may be unemployed so they have opportunities to make a living as well."
Although the resolution cannot force employers to hire locally, Ward 1 Councilman and House of Delegates representative Ronnie Jones, who sponsored the resolution, said it is important to let companies know there is a workforce available here and the city supports the "Hire Local" campaign brought to his attention by Lou Ann Johnson of the Upper Ohio Valley Building & Trades Council.
"This is the same resolution that has been passed by all county commissions in the Northern Panhandle as well as several other counties in West Virginia and Ohio," stated Johnson.
"Of course we want these companies coming in to hire locally instead of bringing people in from out of state. We want jobs and we want them to go to local workers that may be unemployed so they have opportunities to make a living as well"
Jones said there are billions of dollars being invested in the drilling, transporting and processing of the gas from wells and he feels the people in the city and the Northern Panhandle deserve to get some of that money.
"There are about 18,000 trained workers within a 75-mile radius," he said. "That's a big resource for any company coming to the area."
While the Shell Cracker plant did not choose the Northern Panhandle as a home, Jones said the plant's proposed location is only 20 minutes away and people here will still reap some of the benefits. He said there is going to be a lot of work to drill and process the gas from Marcellus shale and it will have a positive impact on the local economy.
According to Jones, Weirton is one of many municipalities, including New Martinsville, Moundsville, Benwood, Glen Dale, Wheeling, McMechen and Triadelphia to pass such a resolution.
(Dickson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)