But the good fortune doesn’t stop at the courthouse. Small businesses across the county have been seeing an increase in revenue. The laundromat and dry cleaner had to hire new employees and lengthen their business hours. The local YMCA is operating in the black for the first time since it opened. The local hardware store is seeing the benefits as well.
“Everything was running good, then the recession hit and things got a little slim,” said Kim Mills, owner and manager of Carrollton Ace Hardware. “Now with the oil and gas companies coming in we are back up to where we were before the recession.”
The store recently completed a renovation and addition of floor space to accommodate new stock and new lines of business. She has hired additional employees and used the bump in business to invest in more stock. One employee spends 100% of his time servicing the needs of gas companies.
Ron Rocco operates a custom parts and fabrication shop near Minerva. He provides custom parts for school buses around the country and services school districts from Maine to Texas. Ron’s seen a large increase in business as local school districts increase their maintenance budgets in response to increased tax revenue. He is also creating prototype parts for local gas companies and drilling rig operators and expects that side of his business to take off in the months to come.
Rocco currently employs four people and is looking for another. He says with the expansion in the area he has a hard time finding employees, but he believes the gas boom has provided an opening for small businesses in the area to grow and compete.
“The bigger [parts] companies were already busy, so it lets us little guys get into a business we never would have had the opportunity for before,” he says of the gas industry. “We went from trying to find work to having too much, so it’s a good thing.”
With a bump in new residents and an increase in personal incomes, Rocco’s mother Alicia is seeing an increase in her store’s sales, too. She operates Natural Approach Farm Store, a natural health and nutritional supplement retail shop near Minerva. She’s also an integrated health practitioner and alpaca breeder.
“People call or stop by on a regular basis now,” she says. “We provide products and services that you can’t find anywhere else in the county. They like to be able to get these things near their home rather than drive for an hour.”