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Shale gas innovation contest underway

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Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2013 2:00 am

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (BUSINESS WIRE) — Are you a researcher, entrepreneur, or innovator working in the shale gas space in Pennsylvania? The Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center www.sgicc.org announced today the program will award a total of $75,000 in cash prizes for the three best shale gas-oriented innovations, new product ideas, or service concepts that are either in the development stage or recently launched.

In addition to the cash prizes, successful applicants will gain exposure to investors, potential partners, and industry sponsors. This year, the Shale Gas Innovation Contest is co-sponsored by Ben Franklin Technology Partners (http://www.benfranklin.org), ANGA (www.anga.us), Acorn Energy (http://acornenergy.com), Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (www.cabotog.com), CONSOL Energy (www.consolenergy.com), Chesapeake Energy (www.chk.com), The Dow Chemical Company (http://www.dow.com/), First National Bank (www.fnb-online.com ), Little Pine Resources (http://littlepineresources.com), the Marcellus Shale Coalition (http://marcelluscoalition.org), and Praxair (www.praxair.com).

Bill Hall, Director of the SGICC remarked, “What’s great about this competition is that a simple online summary is all that’s required to get started. Any idea related to the shale gas space is eligible - even if the product or service has already been commercially developed. Examples include vehicle conversion, natural gas utilization products/services, remote site monitoring, natural gas or NGL conversion technologies, and water remediation for fracking operations.”

Finalists will be chosen by a panel of industry experts.

To download an application, visit www.sgicc.org and click on the $75,000 2013 Shale Gas Innovation Contest tab. Deadline to enter is February 1, 2013.

For details regarding eligibility or other questions, contact Bill Hall at either 814-933-8203 or billhall@psu.edu

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Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale Formation

The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation thatunderlies much of Pennsylvania and portionsof New York, Ohio and West Virginia at a depth of 5,000 to 8,000 feet. It is believed to hold trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. This formation has long been considered prohibitively expensive to access but recent advances in drilling technology and rising natural gas prices have attracted new interest in this previously untapped formation.

The Center for Workforce Information & Analysis (CWIA) used the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to define the Marcellus Shale industry sector. Much of the information included in this document reflects data on a group of six industries identified as “core,” and a group of 30 identified as “ancillary” to the processes involved in accessing the resources in the Marcellus Shale formation. The six Workforce Investment Areas (WIAs) most closely involved in Marcellus Shale activities are Central, North Central, Northern Tier, Southwest Corner, Tri-County, West Central, and Westmoreland-Fayette.

Population Demographics

The Westmoreland and Fayette WIA encompasses Westmoreland and Fayette Counties. The unemployment rate was 8.0% in September, which was three-tenths of a percentage point below the state unemployment rate. There was a 1.5 percentage point difference between the two counties’ rates. While 89% of the population has a high school degree or above, only 20.5% has achieved a four-year degree or higher. The state has a similar percentage of those with a high school degree and higher - 87.1% - but a larger percentage of people who have achieved a more advanced degree.

The region had a 2010 population of 501,775, which was almost 14,000 fewer residents than in 1990. The region had slight growth in the 1990s, and negative growth in the 2000s, whereas the state and nation saw growth over both time frames. In 2010, the region was 93.9% white, non-Hispanic, and 48.8% male.

Industry Demographics

Across the state, the industries making up the Marcellus Shale sector had a predominantly male workforce. Across the state, most industries had a higher percentage of employment in the 45 to 54 year old age range than any other age group. The industry groups in the tables below encompass, but are not limited to, all of the industries defined by the CWIA as core and ancillary to the Marcellus Shale industry sector.

Building Permits

Both the state and the region have seen a decline in building permits since 2006, with the region having an uptick in 2008. While the state saw a 10% increase between 2009 and 2010, the Westmoreland and Fayette region had a slightly larger increase of 16%.

Employment

Marcellus Shale industries added over 650 jobs to the regional economy between first quarter 2008 and first quarter 2011. The core industries have more than doubled in three years.

Wages

In 2010, the core industries had an average annual wage of $75,176 in the Westmoreland and Fayette region, which was well above the state average for all industries of $45,747 and over twice the regional average of $36,192. The ancillary industries also had a higher average wage of $59,321. The state’s average wage for core industries was $73,150 and for ancillary was $61,871.

New Hires

Core industries have had growing numbers of new hires through the most recent quarter, with the largest number in the second quarter of 2010. Ancillary industries have added increasing numbers to their payrolls as well, with 682 new hires in the second quarter of 2011.

Workforce Compatibility

These data provide an understanding of how well the skills of a region’s labor force meet the workforce needs of an industry. The first number is the proportion of industry jobs that require higher levels of experience, training, and education. The second number is the proportion of the region’s workforce that has the higher skills the industry seeks. For example, in water supply and irrigation systems (NAICS 221310) over 58% of the occupations within the industry require significant levels of on-the-job training and/or post-secondary education, indicating that the industry is very skilled. Furthermore, over 23%-- almost 1 in 4—of the region’s workers has the skill sets required to meet the occupational needs of the industry sector. Given this information, an analyst can conceivably conclude that the industry is a good fit for the capabilities of the regional workforce. In the Westmoreland-Fayette region, most industries are reasonably compatible with the local workforce. However, potential workforce skill gaps can be found in fossil fuel electric power generation; engineering services; geophysical surveying and mapping services; testing laboratories; and pipeline transportation of natural gas.

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