Monroe County faced an uncertain future in 2013 following the bankruptcy and closure of the Ormet aluminum smelting plant that cost nearly 1,000 jobs and devastated the local economy. Ormet had for years been the economic backbone of this small Appalachian community and local tax revenues and economic activity quickly shrunk in its absence.
Today, Monroe County is facing a far different future thanks to surging natural gas production in Ohio’s Utica Shale formation. The County brought in a total of $6.8 million in tax revenue during the 2015 fiscal year, a more than 350 percent increase from the $1.5 million recorded in 2010. “Right now, we are seeing an increase in sales tax because people are buying stuff. It will probably be about two years before we really see money coming in from the oil and gas because that is when they will have the pipelines ready,” said Monroe County Auditor Pandora Nauhart.
A once quiet business park is emerging as a regional hub for natural gas production. The Hannibal Industrial Park or Monroe County’s Energy Campus as some now say is home to some of the industry’s leading companies including Schlumberger, Wild Cat Minerals, and Ace Pipeline.
“It’s hard to imagine what would have happened to Monroe County had the oil and gas industry not started to develop when it did,” said Monroe County Commissioner Mike Schumaker in a recent interview with Energy In Depth Ohio. “We hope that with the new pipelines coming in and potential for greater development in our industrial park that we can see a rebirth in our county.”
As Commissioner Schumaker points out, the development of critical pipeline infrastructure will be an important factor to the continued success of the county. Current pipelines in the region were built to accommodate the needs of old market dynamics that relied on foreign imports, not domestic production. Upgrading and expanding our energy infrastructure will ensure the continued economic growth in counties like Monroe while also provide a reliable source of affordable, clean-burning natural gas to our homes and businesses.