Good jobs aren’t just coming. They are already here. Last week we went a ribbon cutting ceremony for CRDC in York, Pennsylvania. Their first facility outside of Costa Rica turns 2 tons per hour of mixed waste plastic into an additive for concrete, asphalt and building products. Resin 8 makes products lighter and stronger. Shale Crescent USA was instrumental in bringing the Costa Rican company to the USA and the Shale Crescent USA region. Our relationship began in the fall of 2018 at the Global Plastics Summit in Chicago. Don, their CEO gave a presentation on his unique recycling process. I approached him after he finished and said, “You have got to come to the USA and our region.” SCUSA has been working closely with them since.
After looking at South Africa and Europe, they chose the USA and York, PA in the Shale Crescent region because of its proximity to large amounts of commercial plastic waste and the community’s support for recycling. People have been picking up CRDC’s green recycling bags for months and returning them full of plastic waste. People don’t have to sort the plastic waste or wash it. They can flip a waste yogurt cup into the green bag with other plastics of all types like hot dog wrappers or Styrofoam plates creating local jobs and feedstock for a useful product instead of waste. The mayor of York, PA claims his city will be the first plastic waste neutral city in the USA. We are encouraging Don, the CRDC CEO, to build U.S. facility 02 in West Virginia or Ohio.
CRDC is the first operational facility the SCUSA has had a hand in bringing to our region. SCUSA is working with other companies soon to be announced who are already hiring local people. These facilities are larger and take more time to build. Employees will also require more technical training and pay is in excess of $30 per hour. We met with one company this week. Their focus is on housing for construction workers and new employees. Drug free employees are essential. These new companies are also part of the opioid solution. People with hope are more likely to stay off drugs. The opportunity for high wage jobs is the hope many people need.
Counties in southern Ohio and West Virginia along the Ohio River are beginning to see the impact of Intel. Many Intel vendors want to be 2-3 hours outside of Columbus and are looking at southern Ohio and West Virginia. In addition to NuCor Steel, NuCor’s vendors want to be in the region close to or in Mason county. SCUSA is working with at least half a dozen European companies who are interested in our region because of its dependable economical energy. Two have already set target dates to be in operation. When we talk to companies, once we convince them to come to the Shale Crescent USA the discussion quickly turns to work force needs.
Our work force needs to be preparing now. My youngest son will have three children in college next year. We were talking and he told me the cost for tuition, room and board are now over $50,000 a year. About $12,000 of this is room and board. It doesn’t include books, some fees and transportation that has gotten much more expensive due to higher gasoline prices. Fortunately, his kids get some scholarships from the college. They still need student loans and help from Dad.
College is not an investment that should be taken likely. Before we put invest in a 401K, buy a house or even a car we do investigation to see what our return will be or if the home or car we want to buy is worth the money we will spend. Shouldn’t education be looked at in the same way? When Lynnda and I considered college as young people neither of us had a lot of money. We knew our careers as an engineer and a registered nurse were careers we would enjoy and pay for our cost of education including loans we took out. Students should consider the cost of college compared to what they will earn on the job they expect to be getting prepared for. College is expensive. An alternative might be community college or a two-year technical curriculum. Here are some cost comparisons I found on line for annual costs;
WVU tuition $9384 in state $26,568 out of state
OSU tuition $12,485 in state $36,722 out of state
Room and board run $12- $14,000 a year.
Some costs for community and technical colleges. Typically, students live at home and attend;
According to U.S. News data “average total loan debt continues to hover around $30,000” Most colleges give some sort of aid. Young people today have a lot of options. A student should look for a career they think they will enjoy. If you like what you are doing it isn’t work. A student should also consider the opportunity cost of education. That is, the money they won’t be able to earn because they are studying and not earning money, probably at least $25,000 a year.
The skilled trades are another option to consider. In these careers a student can earn while they learn. For example, according to the Parkersburg-Marietta Building Trades Council an apprentice can earn $18/hr. + benefits and work 500 hr./yr. Typically it takes an average of 4 years to move up to Journeyman who can earn approximately $100,000 a year plus $50,000 in benefits.
Some companies will even pay for the education of their employees. The jobs are real. Now is the time to prepare. I’m not suggesting what someone should or should not do. Know your options. You can choose a career or settle for one.
Greg Kozera, [email protected] is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (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.