CADIZ - State Treasurer Josh Mandel paid a visit to Harrison County on Tuesday morning to tour the MarkWest Energy Partners facility on Industrial Park Road.
Mandel met with Dave Callahan, vice president of MarkWest Government Affairs, and Tom Noble, plant manager at the Cadiz facility. They also were accompanied by Bob Smith, an investment expert and Cadiz native who was appointed to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System by Mandel in 2013.
Tuesday was the first time Mandel toured any gas/oil facility, but he spoke highly of the industry, calling it a "win-win-win."
VISITS FACILITY — Visiting the MarkWest facility in Cadiz Tuesday were, from left, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, Plant Manager Tom Noble and investment expert Bob Smith. - Mollie Warner
"It's new jobs, it's lower energy prices for families in their homes and manufacturing companies powering their factories, and the third win is national security," he said.
Mandel is a veteran of the Marine Corps; he served two tours of duty in Iraq. He noted Harrison County is contributing to the safety of the United States because the nation is more secure when producing its own energy instead of relying on sources from other countries in the Middle East.
Mandel said he is excited by the impact the gas and oil industry is having on rural areas in Ohio.
"For a long time, this portion of the state has suffered from high unemployment and poverty, and it's exciting to me that for the first time in generations families are seeing new jobs, new wealth, and that wealth reverberates throughout the economy."
The industry also has had an impact on education, as vocational schools hurry to offer programs beneficial to individuals seeking to work for any of the energy companies that have taken root in the area.
Greg Sullivan, operations manager at MarkWest, told Mandel that representatives from vocational schools have approached him to ask what kind of skills he needs in his employees.
The Jefferson County Governing Board in recent months has taken several steps to create the Utica Shale Academy of Ohio, which will be housed in a building in the Southern Local School District in Columbiana County.
Mandel believes the revenue being generated will have a positive impact on the state's budget. When he entered office as treasurer in 2011, Ohio was 43rd in the nation, in terms of overall fiscal condition. A new report released approximately one month ago ranked Ohio seventh. Mandel believes one of the main reasons for this is the economic growth from the energy industry.
"The most exciting component is new jobs. There's thousands of new jobs in this area from oil and gas exploration, and I think a lot of the work being done on the construction side and the service side is so important for economic growth," he said.
MarkWest reportedly has put significant effort into hiring local workers when possible, and Mandel commented the company should be applauded for that effort.
"I believe as state leaders we should be showcasing these companies that are creating jobs here, and we should be doing everything we can to bring profile and recognition to the men and women who are working in the oil and gas industry."
Plant Manager Tom Noble said he enjoyed having a state official visit MarkWest, and called the industry "a big deal."
"There's a lot of opportunity, and with everything that is going on with coal and oil, there will be a lot of people (who can afford) to stay home and work," he said.
Before coming to Cadiz, Mandel met with the Jefferson County Port Authority to speak about facilitating more growth for Ohio and the importance of the state investing in roads. After leaving Cadiz, he headed to Zanesville, to speak about the impact of the oil and gas industry in Muskingum County.