Ohio’s steel industry rebounding due to shale oil development
State Representative Matt Szollosi delivered the most exciting news at the annual State of the Communities event held recently at St. Charles Hospital.
“It would be hard not to be excited about the Utica and Marcellus shale development that we’re seeing across the state of Ohio, primarily in the eastern part and southeastern part of the state. I support it,” he told an estimated crowd of 80 government and business leaders.
Szollosi, who represents the 46th district which includes Oregon, Jerusalem Township, Maumee and South Toledo, said shale oil development is creating “thousands of jobs” and has the potential to “create a couple hundred thousand jobs.” The jobs are not only in the construction and energy fields but also in the high-paying steel industry. Szollosi said shale oil development, also called fracking, requires miles of steel piping for well casings. This need has created a boon in Ohio’s steel industry. Ninety percent of the steel used comes from Ohio mills, he said. These jobs pay some $35 an hour plus benefits.
The New York Times reported in April that the Ohio steel industry was investing $1.5 billion to add two million square feet of production space. The plants are expected to create an estimated 650 jobs by the end of 2013.
While Szollosi said he is excited about what shale oil development can do for the economically depressed areas around Youngstown and rural southeast Ohio, he is also excited about what will happen in Columbus this year. Governor John Kasich will present his two-year budget to the legislature. The big issues are: Medicaid expansion, tax reform, education funding and the turnpike issue.
Gov, Kasich has ruled out leasing the Ohio Turnpike to a private firm and announced late last year that the state will issue bonds totaling $1 to $1.5 billion backed by toll revenue to fund infrastructure upgrades. Szollosi, who was against leasing, said this is “probably not a bad idea.”
Szollosi was one of six speakers at the annual breakfast meeting sponsored by the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce. The others were: Mike Beazley, City of Oregon administrator; Bob Anderson, City of Northwood administrator; Aggie Dahar, City of Toledo economic development spokesperson; Joe Kiss, Jerusalem Township trustee and Ed Kolanko, Village of Walbridge mayor.
Beazley said Oregon is preparing for major investments in late 2013 through 2014. These total more than $1 billion and include projects at Toledo Refining Company, BP-Husky and the expected ground-breaking of the $800 million Oregon Clean Energy project that will produce electricity for up to 500,000 homes.
Other projects include a medical building east of Walmart, a new hotel on Navarre, which will break ground in the spring, and the completion of the Dustin Road upgrade.
Anderson said the City of Northwood is looking forward to the completion in the fall of the long-awaited Wales Road overpass. This will improved traffic flow for Northwood, Oregon and East Toledo. He also said the city has taken an aggressive step toward demolition of the first mall built in Northwest Ohio. “We’re suffering with the Woodville Mall. We’ve taken some action recently to file suit to get the owners to do something. Once we straighten out that mess, we’ll be in a lot better position in the future. Right now we’re kind of holding our own.”
Expansion projects are also underway at Johnson Controls and Fed Ex.
Dahar said the City of Toledo will receive “casino funds” because Raceway Park is moving out of the area. The money will be used to tear down Northtowne Mall. “I feel your pain with Woodville Mall,” she said.
She touted the increased development in market rate housing in downtown and “a lot of interest” being generated in the Ironville area in East Toledo, a prime industrial site for firms with a need for shipping and rail access.
Kiss said Jerusalem Township worked with the Lucas County Land Bank and demolished nine dilapidated homes. He added the two new soccer fields are getting much use and the township is proceeding with plans to get John Kennedy Park “up and running.”
Kiss also said Columbia Gas is installing gas lines from N. Curtice Road to Jerusalem Elementary School.
Ed Kolanko, the new mayor of Walbridge, said the Walbridge Elementary building has been sold and village officials are working with the Kateri Catholic School System about a use for the closed St. Jerome Elementary building. The village is also in the running for a $250,000 grant for infrastructure improvements to Union Street.