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The Suburbanite
  • Forum offers update on local energy development

  • The worlds of business, labor and government mingled Wednesday night to hear an update on local energy development at a forum hosted by the Stark County Oil & Gas Partnership.

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  • The worlds of business, labor and government mingled Wednesday night to hear an update on local energy development at a forum hosted by the Stark County Oil & Gas Partnership.
    Speakers at the event included representatives of Chesapeake Energy, the American Petroleum Institute and Mayor William J. Healy II, who credited exploration of the Utica shale with speeding the city’s economic recovery and bringing 20 to 30 new businesses to the area.
    The more than 200 forum attendees at the Memorial Civic Center also heard from Rebecca Burke, a former county commissioner in Lycoming County, Pa., who has seen the effect of oil and gas development in her community.
    North-central Pennsylvania had no template to follow when the gas and oil industry arrived around 2007, but Ohio is in position to learn from its neighbor’s experiences, Burke said.
    She stressed the need for open communication between the industry, local government, businesses, chambers of commerce and labor groups.
    “Learn about the industry, but you don’t have to become an expert,” Burke said.
    Dave Kirven, president of the East Central Ohio Building Trades and chairman of the partnership, said similar forums will be held around the county in coming months. The next is planned for Massillon and will focus on marketing strategies and ways that small and minority businesses can work with the gas and oil industry. The date is pending.
    The partnership is a consortium of Stark County communities, area chambers of commerce, development groups and local labor organizations. It is working with industry groups such as the Ohio Petroleum Council.
    Kirven said the partnership wants to promote the local work force and businesses, as well as oil and gas drilling techniques that are environmentally sound and responsible. The partnership’s website is www.ChooseStark.com.