A steady crowd gathered throughout the day on Thursday during the inaugural North Central Marcellus Gas Expo, held at the former Walmart building next to Tractor Supply in St. Marys.
According to Sally Wilson, executive director of the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce, 160 vendors participated in the expo, with registration requests being submitted up to the day before the event.
"We had 2,000 visitors as of 2:30 this afternoon. We expect another large crowd once area plants let out," noted expo chairman Jody Foster, Community and Economic Development Coordinator for the Elk County Planning Department, who added the event could reach upwards of 5,000 visitors.
The expo, which began at 10 a.m. and concluded at 6 p.m., was a collaboration between the Elk County Marcellus Shale Gas Task Force and Elk, Cameron, Clearfield and Jefferson counties.
State Representative Matt Gabler (R-Elk/Clearfield) and Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-5th District) were in attendance at the event, where they spoke with various vendors and attendees.
Among the industries represented at the expo were accounting firms, advertising and marketing, communication, construction, consulting services, contractors, tourism, education and employment training, engineers, environmental/regulatory consultants, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, equipment rental and sales, erosion control and restoration services, excavating, exploration and production, finance and investment, food service providers, fuel and lubricants, gas measurement, hose and fittings, industrial supplies, inspection services, insurance, laboratory, lodging, machining, real estate, safety, security, sheet metal and steel fabrication, surveying, trade associations, trucking and hauling, uniforms, waste disposal and treatment, water treatment and transportation, welding, well services, and wire rope.
Several large equipment vendors were located in the parking lot where they showcased various equipment associated with drilling, specifically several types of trailers and trucks.
The parking lot was filled to capacity throughout the day, as were the numerous seminars at the expo.
Among the seminars were those pertaining to “Marcellus Shale: Pennsylvania’s Home-Grown Energy Source" presented by Robert Garland, senior technical advisor at Universal Well Services, Inc.; “Natural Gas Careers and Future Needs” presented by Danielle Boston, director of public outreach from the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA); “Marcellus Shale Basics for Landowners” presented by Forest Resource Educator Scott Weikert of the Forest County Penn State Cooperative Extension; “Introductory Marketing and Working with the Gas Industry” presented by Robert Veilleux, community and economic development educator from the Potter County Penn State Cooperative Extension; and "A Water Test Interpretative Workshop" presented by James Clark, who is a PSU cooperative extension educator, along with Bryan Swistock, Penn State Water Resources Extension Associate.
Local government officials and representatives from the Elk, Cameron, Clearfield and Jefferson chambers of commerce assisted visitors at the registration table, where attendees received various literature about the event and a bag to store any items received from vendors.
The expo was free and open to the general public.
It provided an opportunity for area residents, local business owners, representatives from energy companies and support services and government officials to gather in a central location to discuss the multi-faceted impact of developing the Marcellus Shale.