Cumberland Times-News

Local News

November 3, 2011

Marcellus drilling will offer endless opportunity

Pa. hotelier shares ideas

CUMBERLAND — A few years ago, hotelier Tejas Gosai came up with some innovative ways to capitalize on all the Marcellus shale drilling activity going on outside of Pittsburgh.

To try to attract customers, hotel management installed boot washers and boot dryers.

“Which they loved,” said Gosai, whose family owns two hotels in Bentleyville, Pa., a Best Western Garden Inn and a Holiday Inn Express. “... So we bought a bunch of them and kept them in public areas.”

The boot washers — along with other tweaks, such as changing housekeeping hours to better accommodate the workers’ 12-hour shifts —  made an impact.

By 2010, the previously struggling Gosai family hotels were routinely near full, said Gosai, who spoke Thursday during The Greater Cumberland Committee’s monthly meeting. In fact, the entire southwestern Pennsylvania hotel business is “saturated with Marcellus shale drillers,” he said.

And that is the kind of opportunity that will be available to Western Marylanders in the years ahead as the gas industry seeks permission to drill here, said Gosai, who launched a website in 2008 to disseminate news and information about drilling in the Marcellus shale.

Touted as an “objective news and informational source,” TheMarcellusShale .com has grown into a weekly radio program that airs Saturday afternoons on KDKA News Radio 1020 in Pittsburgh.

“The opportunities are endless,” Gosai said. “Even without Marcellus activity in this region, there’s going to be a ridiculous amount of traffic,” Gosai said. “You guys are right in the corridor of where everything’s going to be happening. So it can be capitalized on in tourism, travel, gas stations, hotels, things like that.”

TGCC, which supports “expanded education of the Marcellus shale development in the region,” invited Gosai to speak to give members an overview of past, present and future phases of drilling and provide a sense of how the natural gas industry has affected business in the region.

Gosai’s radio show, called “The Marcellus Shale and You,” focused last week on how to find a job in the natural gas industry, with guests discussing the breakdown of labor versus white collar positions in the industry, where to go to get the kind of training that is needed for a job in the industry and job growth projections.

Gosai, who said that methods for withdrawing gas from the shale aren’t perfect and the industry needs to be heavily regulated, believes that it’s a resource that shouldn’t be left untapped.

“This is not the thing that’s going to save the whole world,” he said. “But this is at least a step that we can take to wean ourselves off of relying on other countries and other energy sources. It’s domestic. It’s American, and it’s here. It’s underneath us. We just have to figure out how to get it in the right way.”

A daylong seminar next week is designed to help business owners, managers, sales and marketing executives and prospective entrepreneurs better understand the gas industry. Called Shale Gas Business Development Seminar, it’s scheduled for 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 9, at the Holiday Inn Express in Bentleyville. For more information, go to www.shaledirectories.com/seminar.

Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at kbarkley@times-news.com.

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