How Fracking is Renewing Ohio Towns
While Canton, Ohio is known to most folks outside of the Buckeye State as the place where the National Football League was founded, it also employed thousands of folks who once made vacuum cleaners for Hoover and industrial bearings for Timken, Inc. Likewise, Youngstown, Ohio was once a mighty steel producing powerhouse, employing armies of men and women to help produce products used in autos, appliances, and the nation’s infrastructure.
But all that industrial glory began to wane starting in the 1970’s as the U.S. transitioned to a post-industrial economy. Many manufactured goods began to be produced more cheaply overseas, at the same time that more American jobs in industries like information technology, healthcare, and services grew in number. Cities like Canton and Youngstown experienced factory closings, population losses, dramatically lowered tax revenues, and crushing economic woes which lasted for decades. In fact, only a few short years ago, Youngstown became a model for how to intelligently deal with the abandoned houses and shrinking neighborhoods that accompany population loss.
These days, however, as noted by a recent New York Times article, both Canton and Youngstown are seeing economic renewal as the shale oil boom creates increasing demand for the types of goods that these former industrial titans are ideally positioned to produce once again. Not only do the two cities offer the collective knowledge and existing infrastructures to take on new manufacturing concerns, they are also both uniquely positioned geographically near the Utica and Marcellus shale plays of Ohio and Pennsylvania. America’s oil and gas companies not only require know-how to extract energy, they also require high-tech manufactured products and skilled workers to produce them. Thanks to fracking, Canton is becoming more than an economic “has-been” best-known for its pro football legacy, while Youngstown is reinventing itself as a city whose identity no longer has to be tied to a morose Bruce Springsteen ballad.
Note: the anti-fracking community, especially via comments posted in response to the New York Times article referenced above, loves to criticize fracking’s apparent lack of concern for the environment. This disdain for environmental issues is a myth, and the industry is extremely well-regulated (perhaps overly so). We have posted many articles on this site which takes those who believe fracking is detrimental to the environment and the health of local residents to task. We are puzzled as to why those who accept anti-fracking arguments with little or no scrutiny are so vehemently against an economic force that can improve the lives of millions of otherwise financially distressed families. The towns mentioned in this post have experienced wrenching job and population losses as illustrated in the table below. Fracking is helping to pull these municipalities up from disasterous economic declines, and should be embraced for the benefits that it can provide. Of course, fracking requires regulation and oversight, but to argue that the industry has none is absolutely false.
[table id=7 /]