The impact of gas and oil drilling related to the Marcellus and Utica shale fields is on its way.
For evidence, just look at the turnout for the Youngstown Ohio Utica & Natural Gas (Y.O.U.N.G.) expo held last week at the Covelli Centre.
The numbers being thrown around are impressive: More than 8,000 jobs created in the last year by the Utica Shale play. Drilling rig workers who will be making six-figure salaries. A JobsOhio representative who said 360 oil and gas drilling permits have been issued statewide, with 129 wells drilled and 27 producing.
One phrase I keep hearing over and over is that the shale development is in its ''infancy stage.'' That's obvious.
But just look at the development of V&M Star. The pipemaker is still developing its $650 million facility. A spokesman said it should be at full capacity by the end of next year. It has a $46 million payroll and paid $2.4 million in state and local taxes. It uses 350 suppliers across the state and about 100 in this area.
And that's the ''infancy stage.''
There are other heavy hitters: Chesapeake, Consol, Hess, Gulfport, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, BP, Chevron. These folks would not be looking at this area unless they were fairly sure there are lucrative oil and gas opportunities.
And then there was the announcement last week that three companies are considering building a 30- to 36-inch pipeline that would begin somewhere in the northeastern part of the state.
At an estimated cost of $1.5 billion - that's billion with a ''B'' - it would be 250 miles long and connect with an existing line in Michigan.
It would have to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which I hope does not turn into a regulatory mess.
This is all very exciting stuff. If it comes to fruition, it will be a game-changer for this area: hotels being built, housing market improving and people spreading their dollars around at area businesses, restaurants and other establishments.
The Y.O.U.N.G. expo filled the Covelli Centre. If nothing else, it served as a very visible indicator of what is coming. Even the naysayers probably are thinking a little more positively.
While the expo was going on, I was listening to a guest on the Dan Rivers talk radio show on local station WKBN. I didn't catch the guy's name, but I thought he put it well. He said the shale boom here is like a rare second heart transplant. As steel was years ago in this area, so will be the impact of shale, he said.
I hope he's right. I have a feeling he might be.
Robinson is the editor of the Tribune Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to make a comment on this column? Go to tribtoday.com, news, then columns.