Indiana Gazette 2020 Business Indiana Tab

2 — Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020

A vision for success in 2020

What’s inside

Special to the Gazette As 2020 has been ushered in, it’s exciting to begin not just a new year but to start a new decade. As this mile- stone year approached, I found myself thinking back to being a high school stu- dent in the early 1980s and how 2020 seemed to be so far and distant in the future that it was hard to even imagine it. Some of the predictions that were made back then now seem a bit ridiculous. I am disappointed, as I am sure are many other readers, not to see flying cars, com- mercial space shuttle flights or even a moon colony in our present day. I wish that I had taken the time back then to write a list of predic- tions and kept them to re- view today. It would have been entertaining at the very least. This leads me to the sug-

gestion of encour- aging you to take the time now to create a longer- term vision for your business. A 10-year vision is a longer timeframe than most strategic plans and is likely to be impacted by changes in the ex- ternal environ- ment. Nonetheless,

retirements and succession planning for future transi- tions. It is also worthwhile to re- search larger eco- nomic, demograph- ic and technological trends that might affect your business. • Reflect on your review in a special place of your choos- ing. Successful busi-

and feel what does not yet exist.” • Record your reflections in writing to ensure that your thoughts are not lost when you step out of reflec- tion mode and back into the daily pace of your work. Put- ting your reflections and predictions in writing can also help to inspire further thinking and to gain clarity. Your method of recording can be as simple as a hand- written journal, or use a dig- ital medium for ease in re- vising and sharing. Choose the method that feels right for you. • Revise your 10-year vi- sion on a periodic basis as it is shaped by new develop- ments. Many business strategies are emerging in response to newmarkets, customers and unexpected events. Your 10-year vision should be constantly evolv- ing, taking advantage of promising opportunities. A 10-year plan is a founda- tion for other business-plan- ning efforts. After complet- ing your 10-year plan, iden- tify key milestones of what you aspire to achieve in five years and then determine what you need to start in the next year to achieve that goal. This will propel you into action and starting to work toward your 10-year vi- sion. The success of many of our local business and eco- nomic efforts has been be- cause of a long-term and growth-oriented mindset among our community leaders. You can use that same visioning strategy to achieve your business suc- cess. The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce in- vites you to share your long- term business plan with us and looks forward to dis- cussing how we can be a partner to make your vision a reality. Wishing you a bright and prosperous future, JimKinneer, Ph.D. chairman, Indiana County Chamber of Commerce board of directors

LOOKING UP While Indiana County’s airport has developed into a key economic development asset, officials say it still has potential for growth. Page 4

JIM KINNEER

it is a worthwhile exercise. Because most businesses don’t plan that far, it can give your business a competitive advantage. To create your long-term vision I propose that you follow these steps: • Review your current business performance and forecasts. Determine the overall trends that are occurring. Your review should include thinking about your work- force plan and talent needs. Anticipate required skill sets,

ness leaders make time to spend thinking. It is impor- tant to tune out from tech- nology, find a quiet place and to let your mind relax. Think about what is and is not working in the present and to visualize the future. Take the time to picture in your mind what the future looks like. According to author and speaker John Graham, “You’ve got to give yourself the freedom to dream— to use your imagination to see

KEEPING THE ECONOMY ROLLING Ever wonder where the train is going to or coming from as you’re waiting for it to cross? It could be a number of places — even as far away as Canada. Page 6 REDEFINING WORKFORCE NEEDS Though jobs are available in many sectors, businesses report difficulty finding and retaining qualified workers. Page 11 DRILLING DOWN As production from Marcellus shale gas wells falls off, conventional wells are sustaining the industry locally. Page 14

It’s A Wonderful Life in Indiana County, PA

CHANGES ON THE WAY The owners of

some vape shops locally have mixed predictions on a pending law that will ban some flavored e-liquids. Page 15

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Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020 — 3



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4 — Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020 Officials: Airport key asset with room to grow By JAN SHELLENBARGER news@indianagazette.net S everal Indiana County government and air- port officials describe Innovative Aviation Flight School was recently added to the airport’s services. “WE HAVE a large number of private charters and private operations out of here, that are on the big jet size. This was our best year in five years

wide, the county-owned air- port is named for Academy Award-winning actor Jimmy Stewart, who was raised in Indiana and served as a squadron commander in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Stewart flew 20 combat missions in Europe during World War II, remaining in the Air Force Reserve before retiring as a brigadier general in 1968. The Jimmy Stewart Squadron 714 of the Civil Air Patrol is headquartered at the airport, providing avia- tion and service training for area youth. The squadron keeps a team of fliers ready for emergencies such as dis- aster relief and search mis- sions. “There are a lot of opportu- nities to get young people engaged, and getting them involved early is important,” Struzzi said. Hess said the support of several agencies is necessary to ensure the airport contin-

port manager Rick Fuellner said. “This was our best year in five years for fuel sales and that’s a direct reflection on the bigger jets that come in.” While Fuellner appreciates the business provided by the larger jets, he said the smaller planes are the heart of the airport. “I want themhere. They are a big part of the community. You can see the direct in- volvement with all of the people who visit here.” Fuellner said there are four important aspects that make an airport successful. “One is the facility, two is the runway, three is the approach system — so it’s an all-weather air- port —and four is the servic- es you have on the field. “That’s what will draw the people in here,” he said. “I’m working very diligently with the Center for Economic De- velopment and with local pi- lots and other airports to have an avionics facility.”

“Brad Kratz, the owner, is doing wonderful things with Innovative Aviation,” accord- ing to Fuellner. “He’s looking to expand, and he’s one of the individuals we are work- ing with. I want to have an annex out here where people can do flight school and ground training.” Fuellner said the airport has at least six corporations in the area that use the facili- ty regularly. “There is an average of about 300 private commer- cial-type operations that come in and out of here every year.” “The gas companies use helicopters to follow the gas lines on a weekly or monthly basis,” he said. “We’ve gained a good reputation in the last few years for the commercial helicopters who work with

for fuel sales and that’s a direct reflection on the bigger jets that come in.”

the Jimmy Stewart Airport as a major asset to the county, but they also acknowledge there is a need for more growth. “I think the airport has in- credible potential,” said state Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana. “There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that peo- ple aren’t aware of. The air- port has good leadership and the county is on board, as well as a lot of our business leaders.” Indiana County Commis- sioner Sherene Hess agrees: “The airport has had a num- ber of improvements over the last few years. It’s an in- vestment and a development of our economic strategies.” With a runway measuring 5,500 feet long by 100 feet

Rick Fuellner, airport manager

ues to be competitive. “The Federal Aviation Ad- ministration plays a large role, and so does the Penn- sylvania Department of Transportation, which pro- vides multimodal funding for general aviation airports like ours,” Hess said. The Multimodal Trans- portation Fund provides grants to encourage eco- nomic development and en- sure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is

available to the residents of the commonwealth. New GPS approaches have been added to the airport’s system, making it an all- weather facility. “The airport is really com- ing along technologically,” Hess said. “It’s just one more way the county is competi- tive in the region.” “We have a large number of private charters and private operations out of here, that are on the big jet size,” air-

Continued on Page 5

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Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020 — 5

Airport a key asset with potential for growth

these companies. We have hangar space available for helicopters, and a helicopter dolly that the helicopter can land on and then it’s pushed into a hangar.” One addition the county and airport officials would like to see is a charter service. “I get calls every week from people who ask about flights to other airports, such as Pittsburgh,” Fuellner said. Indiana County Airport Au- thority board member Ron Anderson said the airport had a small commuter serv- ice several years ago, but it didn’t last very long. “It would be great to have a charter service available at the airport in the future,” he said. “Right now, we’re work- ing on a master plan with an engineering firm and state Continued from Page 4

regulators, and in that plan will be an upgrading of the runway to strengthen it.” Strengthening the runway involves increasing the thick- ness of the asphalt. “Once the runway is strengthened, we’ll be in good shape to get heavier planes in,” he said. Fuellner said there are many obstacles to gaining approval for charter flights, but he feels it would be worth the effort: “Even if we ended up being a secondary stop, where they are based out of Latrobe or Johnstown, for example, and if we had five passengers, they could stop and pick them up and take themon to Pittsburgh.” In addition to the compa- nies that use the airport, the facility provides several addi- tional services. Each June, the Jimmy Stewart Airport

Festival attracts thousands of people and features visiting aircraft, often including WorldWar II vintage military planes for hands-on educa- tion opportunities, aerial tours of the Indiana area, food and crafts. “We already have our line- up for the 2020 Jimmy Stew- art Festival, andwe’re doing a salute to veterans in Septem- ber, with estimates that more than 10,000 people will be at- tending,” Fuellner said. “Between the opportuni- ties provided by the busi- nesses in the area and the university,” Fuellner said, “I think the airport will become evenmore important to Indi- ana in the next few years.” The opinion is shared by Rep. Struzzi. “That airport is key to our economic future,” he said.

KYLEE SURIKE /Gazette THE AREA’S original airport opened May 11, 1929, as the privately owned Hamilton Field in a clearing about two miles east of Indiana Borough. A new field was opened in 1949 about a mile north of Hamilton Field and was operated by Indiana Borough. The airport was sold to the county in 1957 and was declared a public facility on Sept. 18, 1959.

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6 — Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020

Trains keep regional economy rolling along

By PATRICK CLOONAN pcloonan@indianagazette.net R ailroads have historically played an important role in the growth and develop- ment of Indiana County. And officials at the Indiana Coun- ty Center for Economic Operations and at the Southwestern Pennsyl- vania Commission, a regional plan- ning panel for 10 counties includ- ing Indiana, see that role continu- ing. “Recognizing the role of freight in local economic development, we assist in attracting emerging indus- tries, building enhanced connec- tions to the global marketplace, and protecting mobility options to our commercial and industrial partners,” the SPC states on its website. In an executive summary to its 2016 Regional Freight Plan, one of the plan’s objectives is to “support the viability and integrity of the re- gion’s Class I, II, and III freight rail networks and related systems that will help to advance SPC’s Regional

Vision and facilitate freight and goods movement to, from, through, and within Southwestern Pennsylvania.” Two of those Class I rail networks, Norfolk Southern and CSX, operate in Indiana County, as does one of the Class II networks, Buffalo & Pittsburgh. “Though among the more rural and least populous counties in the SPC region, Indiana County is also a hub of electric power generation with major coal-fired plants that drive a substantial flow of inbound freight,” according to the commis- sion’s Indiana County Freight Pro- file. “Power plants in the area in- clude the Homer City plant, Cone- maugh plant (New Florence area), and Keystone plant (Shelocta area), each fed with coal that arrives via truck or rail from counties across the region, other areas of the state, and out-of-state sources. Balanced against a strong aggregate industry, an agricultural focus, and a vibrant community/university population centered on Indiana Borough, a

TERI ENCISO /Gazette

A SOUTHERN Pacific locomotive crossed School Street in Indiana Borough last week.

Continued on Page 7

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Trains keep regional economy rolling along

variety of freight types and needs throughout the area are vital to supporting the county’s economy.” Much of that rail activity in Indiana County comes from its coal mines. “Coal has been and contin- ues to be the dominant prod- uct,” said SaraWalfoort,man- ager of freight planning for the Southwestern Pennsylva- nia Commission. But other materials are transported in and out of In- diana County, by rail and other means. Based on combined 2011 figures gathered by SPC, the Indiana Commodity Group sent out 2.1 million tons of nonmetallic minerals, 1.3 million tons of coal, half a million tons of secondary traffic (movements of consol- idated consumer goods be- tween warehouse and distri- bution centers), 400,000 tons of farmproducts and 300,000 Continued from Page 6

tons of scrap/wastematerial. The top five destinations for things shipped from the county are Westmoreland County; the city of Norfolk, Va.; and Blair and Cambria counties. Things brought into the county included 14.5 million tons of coal, 900,000 tons of nonmetallic minerals, but also 500,000 tons of petrole- um or coal products, 300,000 tons of secondary traffic and 200,000 tons of food or kin- dred products. The top five inbound trade partners are Cambria and Armstrong counties, the Clarksburg-Morgantown area of northern West Vir- ginia, andMonongalia Coun- ty in West Virginia, which in- cludes Morgantown, and Greene County in the south- west corner of Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern touts being a principal carrier of coal, automobiles and auto- motive parts.

Citing aTexas A&MUniver- sity report, Walfoort said 16 rail cars can serve the pur- pose of 70 to 100 trucks in carrying a product. Norfolk Southern has near- ly 19,500 miles of rail in 22 states from coast to coast, in- cluding 2,400 miles in Penn- sylvania and some services in Indiana County. The Center for Economic Operations said 15 trains op- erate on that line each day. Norfolk Southern says it runs four trains per day through the Indiana area. The railroad has invested more than $44 million in a rail construction project to serve the Keystone Power Plant near Shelocta. According to a map posted by the Pennsylvania Depart- ment of Transportation, Nor- folk Southern’s Conemaugh Route rolls along the Kiskiminetas and Cone- maugh rivers on its way from Pittsburgh to Johnstown.

Connections include a spur line breaking off from Salts- burg north through Clarks- burg and Shelocta to Creek- side.

CSX Transportation Inc. also operates in Indiana County. According to the Center for Economic Opera- tions, it is the largest railroad

in the eastern United States with a 21,000-mile rail net- work linking commercial markets in 23 states, the

Continued on Page 10

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Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020 — 9

10 — Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020

Trains keep regional economy rolling along Continued from Page 7

lion grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to improve a portion of a 25- mile track from Creekside to Cloe, as well as install about eight miles of new track to support delivery of coal to the Homer City power plant. Also operating in Indiana County is the R. J. Corman Railroad Group, based out of Nicholasville, Ky., which has a line between Cherry Tree and Clymer, transporting coal extracted from Rosebud Mining’s Amfire complex near Clymer. Jim Barker, vice president of Kittanning- based Rosebud, said the Cly- mer facility produces 700,000 tons of coal per year. Rosebud also utilizes Nor- folk Southern at its Crooked Creek preparation plant, which is expected to be com- pleted next month just across the Armstrong Coun- ty line from Shelocta. “It produced a half-million tons in the past year,” Barker

said. “The railroad-loading portion was completed first; now the cleaning plant.” He said most of the coal from Crooked Creek goes to Canada.

“As things stand now,”Wal- foort said, regarding the use of rails for shipping coal, “we don’t see anything changing dramatically in the near fu- ture.”

District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces. In Indiana County, a CSX line links with Norfolk Southern in Creekside and the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad in Punxsutawney. Sand and aggregate mate- rial also are carried by freight trains in Indiana County, Walfoort said. “For many years the rails through Indiana County were dormant,” before local lines were retrofitted during the administration of Gov. Ed Rendell, said Byron Stauf- fer Jr., executive director of the county CEO. “For many years coal for Homer City stopped at Route 22. Then 10 to 15 years ago the rail from the north through Indiana was reactivated, andwe have that service now.” On Nov. 1, 2006, The Indi- ana Gazette reported, a grant approved by Gov. Rendell would enable the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad to reha- bilitate 25 miles of track between Creekside and Punxsutawney. It was part of an effort to improve coal traffic from various points through Punxsutawney to the power plant in Homer City, one of four electric gen- erating stations in and around Indiana County. It was a $2 million slice of a $20 million investment

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The B&P includes two shortline railroads in Indi- ana County, one that oper- ates between Homer City and Cloe, Jefferson County, while the other cuts across the northwestern corner of Indiana County and con- nects Eidenau, Butler Coun- ty, and Punxsutawney. In recent years the B&P also has utilized a $3.75 mil-

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Leaders redefine workforce training needs By CHAUNCEY ROSS chauncey@indianagazette.net A n emerging reality of the Indiana County labor market is the the workforce looking for jobs (November 2019, ac- cording to Pennsylvania De- partment of Labor and In- dustry), and untold num- bers of job opportunities that go wanting for the right people to take them. ther employers nor job- seekers should go wanting for each other. vance its more experienced people and open the entry- level positions for the peo- ple leaving schools and en- tering the job market.

mismatch. After a century of coal mining and gas- and oil-well drilling, a trio of blue-collar fossil fuel production indus- tries, as the economic lifeblood of the region, Indi- ana County since the 1980s has transitioned to a some- what more diversified yet labor driven economy. But the transition since the 1980s from a world of mining, where even a diplo- ma wasn’t a necessity to earn a family-supporting paycheck, to a world of jobs requiring more formal skills has only been slowly an- swered by a transition in schooling in Indiana Coun- ty. Under traditional educa- tion philosophies, the mantra of high schools has been to graduate statistical- ly high numbers of students academically prepared to enroll in four-year college Continued on Page 12

that help job seekers and employers to meet, but each local WIB is locally tailored to work in conjunction with economic development-re- lated organizations to mini- mize the reaction time and create resources to inter- vene for both the dislocated workforce and the incum- bent workforce members of a community. What has lead to the prob- lem is the arrival of retire- ment age for the baby boomer generation, still a big bubble in the population curve, Salony said. It has ar- rived while a corresponding dip in the population age range, declining numbers of young people reaching adulthood, is inadequate to take the positions that are coming open. Complicating it is that “you lose years of knowl- edge that you cannot easily replace,” Salony said. Prop- erly, a workplace would ad-

“We’re reaching a perfect storm kind of thing, where we’ve been hearing about an aging workforce and it never has really happened until now,” said Mary Salony, the assistant director of the Tri- County Workforce Invest- ment Board. Called the Tri-CountyWIB, that serves Indiana, Arm- strong and Butler counties, the agency is charged with implementing provisions of the federal Workforce In- vestment Act of 1998 and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014. The board is a govern- ment-appointed panel of private business leaders and education officials charged with gauging the supply and demand for workers in their communities. They oversee “One Stop Career Centers”

But a lot of those essential skills in the trades are not easily found in entry-level job candidates, the human resources officers have dis- covered. “I don’t get the sense that there are large numbers of workers who are not willing or able to work,” said Mark Hilliard, president of the In- diana County Chamber of Commerce. “The problem starts with a population de- cline across the country, in- cluding here in Indiana County. We need to keep our young people here and find opportunities to grow our population. And it is not just the chamber who does this.” TWO FACTORS can be identified for amplifying the

dual nature of the unem- ployment statistics as a measure of a robust econo- my. Historically, the challenge has been seen as the single mission of achieving zero percent unemployment, meaning that everyone available to work has a job. But in parallel to that yard- stick of reaching 100 percent employment is the quest to fill 100 percent of the jobs available at the county’s workplaces. As nearly as they can, employers have provided appropriate op- portunities and employees have brought appropriate skills and abilities to make their matches. Yet the county has sur- pluses of both: 5.8 percent of

The notion that every job should be filled has inspired action by employers, eco- nomic development execu- tives and educators who share their concerns that operating at full production, particularly in manufactur- ing and goods production, gives root to a vibrant econ- omy. Political and business leaders have spelled out new philosophies for preparing the citizens of In- diana County — today’s stu- dents, tomorrow’s workers — for a rewarding life ahead in their home area, and have worked at getting other leaders to embrace the evo- lution of training so that nei-

   





























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12 — Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020

Leaders redefine workforce training needs

and environmental training center. The technology center it- self, like scores of vocation- al-technical schools that opened across Pennsylvania in the 1960s and ’70s, has quietly and quickly re- sponded to the demonstrat- ed needs of Indiana County workplaces over the years. Twice in the past year alone, ICTC has added pro- grams to train workers for immediate openings. Keeping in mind the con- struction of the sprawling Urban Outfitters national distribution and customer fulfillment center at Windy “WE NEED schools being more proactive in Indiana County. ... They have students who may not want to go to college, or want to go to a two-year college and try to aim for the professions or careers where they really want to go.” Steve McPherson, chairman, Indiana County Manufacturing Consortium

and university degree pro- grams. What remains are students who, in varying views, are the ones that just didn’t make the cut for college and are on track to find work in other fields that don’t de- mand or, in theory, don’t compensate like the aca- demically demanding pro- fessions that await the col- lege graduate. What has changed, ac- cording to employers, is that different skills are now Continued from Page 11

needed and rewarded in oc- cupations that don’t have the glamour of rocket scien- tist. “There use to be a lot of unskilled labor positions but now, it’s not that you need a degree, but you do need certification in talents that students simply need not invest four years to ac- quire,” Salony explained. “We need schools being more proactive in Indiana County. From our perspec- tive as a manufacturer, they need to address these. They

have students who may not want to go to college, or want to go to a two-year col- lege and try to aim for the professions or careers where they really want to go,” said Steve McPherson, project administrator for MGK Technologies, and chairman of the Indiana County Manufacturers Con- sortium. THE TRAINING programs have stepped up to fill in some of the gap. Job fairs in recent years have had a growing presence of repre- sentatives of trade schools touting financial aid and high job placement rates, manning their booths alongside the recruiters for companies and armed forces. Westmoreland County Community College has worked to retain and grow its branch campus for stu- dents in Indiana County. The school is nearing a final agreement to build new classrooms on the grounds of the Indiana County Tech- nology Center in White Township. With an eye toward sus- taining agriculture, the Indi- ana County Conservation District, too, has focused on ICTC and begun construc- tion there of its new offices

Ridge Business and Tech- nology Park in White Town- ship, ICTC created a forklift operator training course and send its graduates to work in the URBN ware- house. Michael McDermott, executive director of ICTC, said the school added a class in blueprint reading to its curriculum for 2019-20, specifically at the request of Indiana County employers who found that skill lacking in its job applicants. “We work in conjunction with the Manufacturers Consortium and the Work- force Investment Board; we meet and participate with them monthly to hear their concerns and needs, what specific things they are looking for,” McDermott said. ICTC routinely channels its graduates in welding, machining and collision re- pair courses to local compa- nies. Its students in powder coat paint processes “are highly sought after by area manufacturers,” McDer- mott said. Last year, tech center in- structors Michael Rescente and Jon Krecota worked with the manufacturers group to develop a curricu- lum for blueprint reading. It’s not a new certificate pro-

gram by itself, but the class was opened in September to students in all the trade studies, McDermott said. “That was a direct result of the request of the manufac- turers. So more and more students are ready to step in, recognize plans,” Mc- Dermott said. “We’re more than willing to sit with any organization to listen to their needs and make adjustments to bene- fit our students. Then obvi- ously here in Indiana Coun- ty it always helps us if we can help parents to under- stand (that their child can work and stay here in Indi- ana County) we’ll take that any day of the week.” ASSOCIATE DEGREE col- lege programs get a boost in the new scenario but more so do trade schools that qualify students in two years, give or take, to earn necessary certification and get hired to jobs that are known to be waiting for them. Yet some pieces of the puzzle are missing. “Some problems we’re running into, in our busi- ness community, are wide- spread,” Hilliard said. There are a handful of workers who are unwilling or unable

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Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020 — 13

Leaders redefine workforce training needs

to work and some problems involve drug testing. A lot of positions today impose a no-tolerance policy,” partic- ularly those where workers are responsible for operat- ing heavy machinery. Criminal background checks also are a barrier to some. “A lot of places check their records,” Hilliard said. “Some companies are le- nient on the marks on records that they are willing to overlook, some that they did not overlook 10 years ago. But others such as felony convictions, unfortu- nately, do not go away.” While passing back- ground checks and blood tests have been longtime standards for entry into many workplaces on many levels, only in the past few years has emerged the recognition of so-called “soft skills,” a new kind of sniff test to judge the appro- priateness of would-be em- ployees for the positions they seek. “I also hear employers calling them essential skills,” Salony said. “Prob- lem solving, communica- tions. The good news is that many employers, when they find someone with essential soft skills, are willing to take Continued from Page 12

the world we’re living in today, they’re lacking in a lot of students. “They are not as able to work in a team atmosphere as they did a few years ago. We look at attendance, re- spect, reliability and work ethic, too. Those are subcat- egories of these skills. “Professionalism could mean proper communica- tion by email to a supervi- sor, your communication with a coworker, and not just how you talk to a teacher in school,” he said.

and train them” for the hands-on skills of their par- ticular workplace. “We have been working with the schools,” McPher- son said. “How do they teach the students, and get students prepared in soft skills? “But the one thing they still cannot do for their stu- dents is to instill motiva- tion. They can give them reason and opportunity, but there are workers who may expect a certain schedule, a five-day work week.” MGK schedules its em- ployees to four 10-hour days a week. “Then there are people who will come in and work two or three days of a five- day work week and skip the rest,” McPherson said. “They come in and say, ‘Oh, I made enough money for what I needed.’” MGK is emblematic of the job sites that don’t see waves of job applicants bred with the drive and desire to do all that the boss wants done. Basic courtesy isn’t as commonly embraced as a value anymore, some em- ployers report. These are some at the root of what are called soft skills. “Sadly, employers have people who do not show up for appointments for inter-

“It’s how you are in a group project, where you deal with people with different opinions from yours. “There are so many com- panies out there that look for these because they want to develop a team culture in their workplaces.” “We have about 450 stu- dents taking part,” Hilliard said. “And that’s a good amount of students throughout this county is just two grade levels. It’s an opportunity for us to plant the seeds.”

“WE’RE MORE than willing to sit with any organization to listen to their needs and make adjustments to benefit our students.”

Michael McDermott, executive director, Indiana County Technology Center

THOSE ARE becoming les- sons now in Indiana County schools through the new “Indiana County Ready” program. It has been devel- oped in conjunction with the business community, launched as a major initia- tive of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce, adopted by school boards and administrators and put into action for the 2019-20 school year. “Indiana County Ready” is a concept more than a class or a club. In short, it’s a way of life that the next wave of young adults, those in 11th and 12th grades, have been asked to pledge to in their day-to-day lives in school. “These soft skills are the interpersonal skills of com- munication, motivation, re- spect and professionalism,” Hilliard said. “They may be the little things you heard from your parents while growing up, but because of the nature of

views. I was shocked the first time that happened,” Salony said. “Now we also have people who get hired and don’t show up after the first day. Or at all.” Salony said it could be a byproduct of what today’s job seekers view as efficien- cy.Where they don’t person- ally drop off 10 or 15 ré- sumés at front offices, they file dozens of applications through online services. Young job seekers, she be- lieves, may be conditioned to focus only on the most fruitful of the results and center themselves on what they feel is their single best offer. Like the silent rejec- tions of dozens of online ap- plications, so comes silent rejection of actual offers that offer less than the one they want. “There’s no guarantee for employers that people will show up more than a day or two. I hear these stories … and now I’m not shocked anymore,” Salony said.

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14 — Business Indiana, Friday, January 31, 2020

Conventional wells stable as shale falls off

By PATRICK CLOONAN pcloonan@indianagazette.net T here is still a natural gas in- dustry in Indiana County, for both shallow, conventional wells and deeper, unconventional ones — though local production of the latter pales by comparison with other areas in the multi-state Utica and Marcellus shale regions. “There’s not a lot of shale pro- duction,” said Brad Gray, chief op- erating officer for Diversified Oil & Gas LLC. “The majority of the pro- duction in Indiana County is con- ventional.” And a recent price decline has combined with drillers finding so much gas that there’s an over-sup- ply. “The price is so low, the drillers are going to go to the fields that they already know,” said Dave Bro- cious, an Indiana-based expert on automotive and energy industries. “(Compared to when theMarcellus boom began in 2007-08), gas was selling for about $13, $14 an MCF (1,000 cubic feet), per unit of gas. Today it is at $2.” So, instead of blasting out new roads and wells, unconventional drillers are going to familiar territo- ry in such counties as Tioga, Brad- ford and Susquehanna in Pennsyl- vania’s Northern Tier and Greene and Washington in the southwest- ern corner of the state. A difference between conven- tional and shale drilling is in what’s expected once the drilling is done.

“When a new shale well comes online, there are initial declines that are extremely steep, from 40 to 70 percent of production in the first year,” Gray said. “They then start to flatten off over time. Our wells are already at a 2 to 5 percent decline per year, a flat decline or terminal decline phase, which is the mature phase of the well pro- duction.” A result is that a conventional driller can hedge those volumes and manage their way through price declines. “That price is putting a tremen- dous amount of stress on compa- nies that are built on growth and production,” Gray said. “We are not a drilling company; we are a pro- duction company. Our production is both predictable and stable. Low prices do impact us but not to the extent that it impacts companies that are drilling.” Diversified, which has a regional office near Indiana County’s air- port, has become a top producer in Indiana County through its acqui- sition of wells from other compa- nies involved in conventional drilling, such as Alliance and CNX. Diversified has “slightly over 200 employees” in the Indiana- Brookville region with “good jobs and good benefits,” Gray said. There is a bright side for users of natural gas. “It is a huge win,” Brocious said. “For the people who are involved in the upstream part of the natural gas industry, the drillers, the serv-

ice companies around Indiana County that provide water, con- struction services, the consultants, engineers … they’ve seen a con- traction in the past year just be- cause the commodity prices con- tinue to slide.” Still, Diversified is setting down roots along with well operations that could continue to produce for 30 to 50 years, he said. “We’re very committed to Indi- ana County,” the Diversified offi- cial said. “We actually provide four scholarships to (Indiana University of Pennsylvania). We’re focused on students who are in studies that would support the oil and gas in- dustry. That’s our primary commu- nity involvement.” The number of natural gas users and the volume of their use could increase in the years ahead, de- pending on what happens with cracker plants that can turn natu- ral gas into other products. Shell Co. plans to use a plant in Beaver County to isolate ethane from nat- ural gas and produce 1.6 million tons of polyethylene for use in products ranging from food pack- aging and containers to automo- bile components. “They’re looking at a 20- to 30- year investment horizon,” Bro- cious said. That plant is scheduled to begin operation early in this decade, after which there could be more plants built in the tri-state region around Pittsburgh. An American subsidiary of Thai-

land’s PTT Global Chemical is looking at Belmont County in Ohio. Brocious said PTT is doing due diligence, along with its part- ner, South Korea’s Daelim Industri- al Company. In addition, ExxonMobil is re- portedly looking at what would be a second Beaver County petro- chemical plant. If there is a plus side to the future for natural gas, there also is a minus side. Brocious said Gov. Tom Wolf has been supportive of the natural gas industry — in some ways. Wolf has supported natural gas pipeline projects and the use of compressed natural gas to fuel trucks and buses, including a CNG station at the Indiana County Tran- sit Authority facilities in White Township. On the other hand,Wolf has con- tinued to press for what he has called “commonsense” severance tax. “We believe there already is a tax on production of the Marcellus and the Utica formations,” Gray said, referring to the impact fee on drilling. “All producers would be affected by an additional tax. We do not be- lieve an additional tax would be good for the business or for the res- idents of the state.” Also,Wolf embraced the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a plan opposed locally by the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce. Wolf wants the state Department

of Environmental Protection to de- velop a rulemaking change “to abate, control or limit carbon diox- ide emissions from fossil-fuel-fired electric power generators” no later than July 31. Wolf wants such rules to “be suf- ficiently consistent” with rules in the other RGGI states of Connecti- cut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Ver- mont. In response, state Sen. Joe Pittman and state Rep. Jim Struzzi, both Republicans from Indiana, introduced bills requiring legisla- tive authorization before Pennsyl- vania can enter into RGGI or any other multi-state program that could impose a carbon tax on em- ployers engaged in electric genera- tion, manufacturing or other in- dustries. They are the lead sponsors on, respectively, Senate Bill 950 and House Bill 2025, both of which have been turned over to Environ- mental Resources and Energy committees in the two chambers. The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce has also expressed its opposition to RGGI. While Wolf’s supporters have said the drillers won’t leave Penn- sylvania’s gas fields, Brocious is not so sure. “The capital can flow like water to where the best return is,” he said. “If the rules are always chang- ing, it is hard for (drillers) to plan their future investment.”

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