Analysis shows MWCD project has $1B impact on region’s economy News, Sports, Jobs

NEW PHILADELPHIA — A capital improvement project launched by the Muskingum Watershed Conservation District in 2014 has had a big impact across the region, officials said.

Powered by revenue from Utica shale leases, the project has boosted the region’s economy by nearly $1 billion with MWCD’s $221.9 million investment. It has supported 2,606 jobs and provided nearly $300 million in wages and benefits since its launch nine years ago.

The economic benefits were calculated as part of a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of MWCD’s oil and gas revenues by Cleveland State University.

„MWCD is excited to work with Cleveland State University to showcase the historic levels of investment that have been made as they have taken the bold step to allow oil and gas development on our lands,” said District Executive Director Craig Butler. „Through careful planning, analysis and a comprehensive lease and program, MWCD is leading the way and showing how Ohio can have an economic impact of nearly $1 billion while providing the best camping, fishing and overall recreation opportunities in Ohio. About the decision made by the Board of Directors and staff in 2011 I am honored and very proud to be able to invest in and support the region through these investments.

As the Cleveland State analysis underscores, increased oil and gas revenue associated with Utica Shale development has generated revenue for MWCD that has helped bring economic benefits to the conservancy district’s 18-county service area, including job creation and increased state and local taxes. Revenue and growth in related industries such as transportation and infrastructure.

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This development has helped MWCD greatly expand its services so that it now offers the best recreational opportunities anywhere in Ohio. For example, cabins, campgrounds, docks, playgrounds, tourist shelters, shower houses, trails, and wastewater utility infrastructure have been upgraded to a standard rarely seen in public parks and campgrounds anywhere in the country.

The analysis includes investments through 2022, but excludes nearly $15 million in program funding in 2023 and $30 million in 2024 in the budget. Additionally, MWCD leased over 7,300 acres in Harrison County by 2022.

Costs resulting from the lease agreement are not reflected in this study, although the money is expected to help drive further economic impact through capital improvements and ongoing operations over the years, officials added.

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