Value-added pieces key to development

BY STACI WILSON

WGSI_econdev_leatherstockingThis year has been a good one for economic development in Susquehanna County, Progress Authority Executive Director Anthony Ventello said at the annual breakfast meeting held Friday, Aug. 22.

“We continue to see investment in the region,” Ventello said.

Central to that investment is the development of the Marcellus Shale.

Ventello said, “We’re seeing unique business development opportunities in the county with its strategic location of the resource in proximity to the market.”

Now, the director of the economic arm of the county is looking to add value to that resource before it leaves the area. “It’s very important to do that,” Ventello said.

He stressed the need to “strike a balance” between shipping gas out of the county and capitalizing on the “downstream” business opportunities that come with natural gas development.

Those opportunities include local gas distribution – as Leatherstocking Gas Company is developing – as well as CNG, LNG and power generation.

Ventello spoke about IMG’s move to build power generation facility in Auburn Twp. “It’s a $20 million investment locally,” he said.

Scott Dunkleberger, Director of the Center for Business Financing with DCED was the guest speaker at the event.

Dunkleberger said recent reports indicate that Marcellus Shale production hit an all-time high in July. “Twenty-nine percent of that gas is from Susquehanna County,” he said. “The five most productive wells are in this county.”

“The economy is changing,” Dunkleberger said. “(Natural gas development) can truly change Pennsylvania in a positive way if it is handled right.”

Dunkleberger discussed the development of LNG and CNG, as well as fueling stations that would be accessible to the public.

He also outlined areas where the county could take advantage of some of the funds available through the Marcellus Legacy Fund – a fund created by Act 13 to be used for flood mitigation, baseline water quality testing and recreation projects.

In 2013, 168 project proposals were submitted for funding in the state, including a project from the Rail-Trail Council and a project in Gibson Township, according to Dunkleberger.

This year, the Rail-Trail and Clifford Twp. submitted applications which will be acted on in November, according to Dunkleberger.

Also in the works in Susquehanna County is a feasibility study for the development of an industrial park, Ventello said.

Leatherstocking was given the “business of the year” award for its development and ongoing construction of a natural gas distribution system. Currently, construction is focused in the Montrose area.

Michael German, president of Leatherstocking, thanked the political leadership in the state and county.
He also said that the company has formed partnerships with Cabot and Williams to aid in bringing the gas to the Montrose area and to the Elk Lake School District.

Leatherstocking is also working on an agreement for its proposed distribution line construction in the New Milford area.