No Place Like Home

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Time flies. Fifty years ago, I left my childhood home in Pittsburgh and headed to my first engineering job after college, in Michigan. I was on my own. Dad died suddenly in August leaving Mom with my 5 brothers at home. Mom would be celebrating her first Christmas without Dad. I didn’t have any vacation time yet. Fortunately, Christmas was on a Tuesday that year. With a long Holiday weekend, I packed a bag, put the Christmas gifts I bought for the family in my new lime green Plymouth Duster and headed home for the holidays. A seven-hour drive.

When I arrived, the smell of Mom’s freshly baked nut rolls reminded me of many happy Christmases we had as a family growing up. John, my oldest brother, was in the Army and got home on leave. My brothers worked together and took over Dad’s jobs setting up the Christmas tree and putting Christmas lights on the house. That first Christmas without Dad was difficult but merry. My younger brothers still woke up at 4 AM for the traditional Christmas vigil examining the wrapped presents waiting for 7 AM when we would open gifts and then head to church. We were still a family experiencing the joy of Christmas. Home is special. It was hard leaving Christmas night after dinner to go back to work in Michigan. Life goes on. Two years later, Lynnda and I had been married six months at Christmas. We spent time with both families and began our own Christmas traditions in our home. Today our children have their own Christmas traditions and joyful memories of home growing up.

When my children graduated, they all left home to find good jobs out of state. The closest is six hours away. Lynnda and I have a Santa Run to make this weekend. Young people in our region now have choices. High wage jobs are here. More have been announced. I asked a 30+ year employee of the West Virginia Development office when was the last time he had seen this many companies coming to or expanding in West Virginia. “Never” He responded. The Dad of one of my former soccer players, does communications for the State of West Virginia. He told me the last time West Virginia has seen this much infrastructure and economic growth was during the 1920s. West Virginians are coming home. We have friends in Charleston, South Carolina who are moving back to West Virginia. Young people can choose to stay home and have a great career. Thousands of jobs in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are looking people to fill them.

Last weekend, Lynnda and I were at Kiawah Island, South Carolina where my daughter, Dannielle and I ran the Kiawah Half-Marathon. Dannielle’s husband and his parents who live outside of Charleston, SC attended. We had lunch with some friends who moved from Charleston, WV over 20 years ago. They like the weather in Charleston, SC except for an occasional hurricane. They aren’t happy with the changes they are experiencing. Charleston, SC is seeing explosive growth. Some quotes we heard… “Infrastructure isn’t keeping up. Traffic is terrible. Housing has become expensive. Parking is difficult downtown. Restaurants are crowded with tourists and expensive.” Dannielle loves the weather and golf. She hates the alligators who frequent the courses. They must keep their dog away from the water. I love to visit Kiawah, play golf and enjoy the beach. Lynnda loves the weather and beach. We prefer a deer herd in our neighborhood in Pinch, WV to an alligator in the creek.

Americans get to choose our career and where we live. People like different things. In the Shale Crescent USA region of PA, OH and WV we can choose to live in a big city like Columbus or Pittsburgh, a medium sized city like Parkersburg or Washington, PA or a small town like Marietta or Pinch. I like short commutes and light traffic. The Shale Crescent Region has abundant dependable, economical energy. It has water in abundance. Extreme weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes are rare. Outdoor activities of all types are nearby. The Shale Crescent USA region is easy to promote for its quality of life.

This region may be important to actually reduce global emissions. With companies moving here and local companies expanding the process has started. Energy, feedstock and customers are in the same place. We don’t need Middle East oil and ocean transportation to serve half of the U.S. population. John Kerry said, “…almost 90 percent of all of the planet’s global emissions come from outside of US borders. We could go to zero tomorrow and the problem isn’t solved.” We can’t depend on the Chinese Communist Party to honor their pledges. We can stop buying manufactured products from countries like China until they clean up their act. We can bring manufacturing to the Shale Crescent USA. A recent study by Shale Crescent USA and Jobs Ohio shows the USA and particularly this region has a manufacturing cost and emissions advantage.

The race at Kiawah is special. I began running long distance in 2008. In 2015 I ran my personal record (PR) half-marathon time at Kiawah. In 2020, Kiawah was my first half-marathon a year after my soccer injury and surgery repairing both ruptured quads. Two months in a wheelchair meant a lot of leg muscle mass to be rebuilt. I’m running almost an hour slower and considered giving up running half-marathons. As Dannielle and I were finishing this old guy flew by us and the other runners. The back of his shirt said he was seventy-five years old and has run over 500 marathons. He was finishing a marathon (26.2 miles) faster than I could run 13.1 miles! He gave me hope. Anything is possible, including bringing manufacturing back to our home, the Shale Crescent USA and cleaning up the planet. Merry Christmas.

Greg Kozera, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.

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