The Suburbanite
  • Indirect Impact: Alliance, Minerva plan, wait for drilling boom

  • Two Eastern Stark County communities, Alliance and Minerva, are seeing the early effect of Utica Shale drilling activity and are planning for what’s to come.

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  • Two Eastern Stark County communities are seeing the early effect of Utica Shale drilling activity.
    The city of Alliance hasn’t been the landing spot yet for drilling companies or their subsidiaries, but that doesn’t mean the city and community aren’t preparing for it.
    In recent months, Alliance City Council amended its zoning code to allow heavy industrial uses of property zoned light industrial on a conditional basis.
    Marlington Local Schools started an oil and gas technology program this school year to prepare students for careers in the field, and the Alliance Career Centre tailored a welding course to industry practices.
    Tom Pukys, president of Alliance Area Development, credited the city and its partners in the community for their efforts.
    “Inquiries from new businesses have slowed, but we’re seeing a lot of businesses that are seeing indirect activity from oil and gas,” he said. “We’ve been more involved in retention and expansion of existing businesses.”
    In Minerva, the village council has little direct contact with the industry, said Village Councilman Phil Davison. But the small southern Stark village of 3,700 residents has seen more truck traffic through its streets and visitors to its shops and restaurants.
    “We’re taking a wait-and-see approach,” Davison said.
    Davison is preparing for a time when the village’s population sees a spike and considering the additional strain it could place on village resources such as water and sewer. He’s also concerned about small ancillary businesses that pop up without the intention of staying in the area for the long term.
    “It could create a void there that we might have to address,” he said.
    Alliance-based MAC Trailer, which Mike Conny opened in 1993 in a garage with an $8,000 loan from his parents, now has annual sales of $250 million. The company expanded its operations last year by building new facilities in Kent and Billings, Mt. At the Kent facility of MAC LTT (liquid tank trailer), the company is building tanks to haul crude oil, gasoline and salt water. The tanks are considered coded vessels, which require government approval to build. Gov. John Kasich visited the facility twice in 2012.
    In Alliance, they’ve built an addition and refocused the product line. There, MAC Trailer is building pneumatic tanks used to haul fracking sands and aluminum flat beds to carry drilling pipe.
    “We’ve had a fast ride,” Conny said.
    Dave Rownd, vice president of Stark Metal Sales, a 75,000-square-foot steel service center, said the company expects to see a major jump in business once drilling activity ramps up. The company cuts or shapes metal to size before it goes into production. Rownd believes Stark Metal Sales will be providing steel for everything from drilling equipment to large vehicles used by the industry.
    Page 2 of 2 - “This oil and gas boom has the potential of (having) the best economic outcome for this area probably since the Timken Co. was building plants,” he said. “You’ve got so many different businesses that feed off the oil and gas boom. Look at hotels, look at restaurants. When you’ve got that kind of activity going on, it strengthens so many.”
    Reach Matthew at 330-580-8527 or matthew.rink@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: @mrinkREP

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