Transient natural gas drillers boost parts of the state’s economy

    Getting drilling jobs in the hands of Pennsylvanians has become a political football in the governor’s race, but there are some benefits to the prominence of out of state workers in drilling areas.

    Both candidates for governor in Pennsylvania say they’ll do everything they can to make sure natural gas drillers are hiring Pennsylvania residents, instead of bringing in workers from out-out-state.  But the transient workers are providing a boost to other sectors of the economy.

    Business at Williamsport’s Holiday Inn Express has been up by about 30% for more than a year now. The increased traffic comes mostly from natural gas drillers, who have traveled from Texas, Oklahoma and other states to work on the hundreds of wells in the Williamsport area.

    Chartwell Hotels vice president Jennifer Locey says some drillers have been living in the Holiday Inn for more than two years now.

    “If you don’t book at least a few days in advance, you will not get a room,” she says. “Our walk-in business – the travelers just going through the Williamsport area without a reservation and just stopping by, have found it very difficult at last-minute to get a reservation.”

    The Holiday Inn had to ask the drillers to relocate, or leave on vacation, during the Little League World Series, in order to honor long-standing reservations with ESPN and other groups in town for the annual event.

    Locey expects business to slow down once more Pennsylvania natives take over the drilling jobs, but she says the shift will be better for the region’s overall economic picture.

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