Pa. Small Business Owners Tout Marcellus Shale Benefits on Capitol Hill

Today, two western Pennsylvania small business owners took their success stories to Washington, DC, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. At today’s hearing – titled “America’s Onshore Energy Resources: Creating Jobs, Securing America, and Lowering Prices” – Paul Battista (an MSC member) and Frank Puskarich spoke of the economic and broader community benefits tied to the safe production of clean-burning American natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

As small business owners – the backbone of the American economy – their companies, like so many others across the region, continue to experience tremendous growth and success, buoyed by Marcellus Shale development. Here’s a glance at what they said about the job-creating natural gas industry, which is Powering an American Renaissance.

Paul Battista, SunnySide Supply, Inc., Washington, Pa.
Testimony:

  • For 27 years my wife & I have tried to build a supply business that would give us a great income and provide for our families. … We decided to re-focus our business and products to the O&GI in early 2008. … In 2008 we had 5 employees including my wife & me. Sales revenue was at $1.1 million. From there it exploded! In 4 years we had a total of 15 people working at SunnySide, including both of our children Lisa & John with sales revenue over $5 million.
  • We have more employees now and we can now pay a higher family sustaining wage! We have people working for us that are the primary bread winner in their house hold. These employees get good benefits and a great work environment.
  • Now with the [oil and gas industry] in our area we have a bright future to keep our children here where they were raised. South Western PA is a great place to raise a family. When we talk with people from TX, LA, AK, KY, NM and others that have come here to work. … This industry is giving people a place to call home by providing great job opportunities at all skill levels and professions.
  • I will say this; the industry is made of professional engineers, geologist, scientist, safety and production people that want to get it right. They are continually making changes to their process to improve safety and efficiencies. … I believe they do strive for perfection and to make it safe. The Marcellus Shale Coalition is an organization of Producers, Midstream & Service companies that have worked to develop “Best Practices” in all aspects of the industry to protect the workers and the environment. They have a set of Guiding Principles that each member embraces and lives by each & every day. They also are committed to educating the public about the O&GI and provide a Jobs Portal on their website marcelluscoalition.com.
  • I support exploration of tight shale oil & gas if for no other reason than to be able to get the USA off of foreign oil. … We need leaders who want to make Americans proud again. Our natural gas resource will give us a product that we can trade with other friendly nations who believe in Democracy. As you can tell, I could talk about this industry all day long and how it has helped people. It has been good to my immediate family, our brothers & sisters that own farm land, our business & our community.

Frank Puskarich, Hog Father’s Old Fashioned BBQ, Washington, Pa.
Testimony:

  • As a lifetime resident of the region, I see natural gas development, particularly the Marcellus Shale, as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for clean energy, economic growth and national energy security. The impacts of the natural gas industry are far reaching, already employing more than 250,000 Pennsylvanians.
  • I’ve been in business since the natural gas activity in the Marcellus Shale took off years ago, and I personally see that there has been a multi-billion dollar impact seen in all aspects of the state’s economy. And simply put, this is the best thing that’s happened to me and my company
  • When I opened in May 2007 I had 15 employees on staff and sales of just over $10,000 per week. Last week, my company with 3 locations and 75+ employees did well over $70,000 and there is a good chance that this year we will break $4 million in sales.
  • [M]y food supplier has…reported just under a 400% increase in our case purchases per week from 2010 to the end of 2012. … [T]he Natural Gas Industry have allowed me to recruit, train, and compensate better management and service employees. Each of my unit managers is now given a salary and benefits package earning them over $71,000 per year. I also provide at no cost to them complete health and dental care including their families. I am also able to pay an hourly rate for the kitchen staff that is well over 65% higher than the minimum wage rate.
  • Everyday a new local business appears. … There are new clothing business opening that specialize in protective apparel and boots required to work the natural gas industry. Closed gas stations are re-opening and offering on the way food and supplies. Auto repairs shops are springing back up. Several years back I could walk in and get my hair cut. Now I have to take a seat and wait my turn. Independent hardware stores in the area are also remodeling and upgrading their inventories. People are fixing and remodeling their recently purchased homes and apartments. Rental property owners are doing the same.
  • Washington County, Pennsylvania is thriving in so many aspects that it never was before. Thanks to this industry, our region’s economy is stronger that ever before. … Natural gas can help to solve so many problems for America- clean air, energy security, and economic growth. And I know this because I’m seeing it happening in my own hometown.

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