September 16, 2019

Issue #2

MORPC Partnering with OGAP to Ensure Energy for Smart Growth

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) designated the Natural Gas Capacity Expansion Project in Union, Madison and area counties a critical Competitive Advantage Project.

The Competitive Advantage Project initiative is a partnership of MORPC and Columbus 2020, to identify and advance priority infrastructure projects across the region. MORPC is now partnering with Ohio Gas Access Partnership (OGAP) to help ensure natural gas supplies can meet long term growth in Marysville, London, West Jefferson, Plain City, and the entire U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor. MORPC estimates a long term solution is required to meet the current and future natural gas needs of Union, Madison and surrounding counties facilitating the creation of 10,000 new jobs, while helping to retain another 28,000.
MORPC identified Competitive Advantage Projects are strategic investment initiatives that will create substantial long term economic advantages in the region and position Central Ohio above its economically competitive peers. MORPC works with local and regional leaders to develop a key project list in its effort to advance the most important infrastructure investments needed across the greater Columbus region. As a Competitive Advantage Project, MORPC specifically advocates for these projects to Ohio’s congressional delegation as well as to state, regional and local government policy makers and regulators.

The gas experiment project benefits include:

  • Maintains competitive infrastructure by extending natural gas into underserved areas
  • Serves existing and future commercial and industrial employers
  • Facilitates creation of shovel-ready sites with utility and transportation infrastructure
  • Supports key manufacturers across the multi-county region
  • Aligns with existing planning documents

Access to Natural Gas is a Workforce Issue

Existing Central Ohio companies continue growing, new companies are announcing they are locating in the region and local economic developers are seeing sustained demand well into the future. Cities, villages and townships across Union and Madison Counties are feeling the pressure as employers demand more workers and those workers require places to live. Some companies blame the lack of appropriate housing as a significant reason for why they can’t attract more workers.
A healthy housing market provides diverse housing options for people across a wide swath of socioeconomic levels. Most employers prefer employees to have the choice to live near their place of work, since proximity to work increases reliability and productivity. Employees also prefer living near their job because it allows for greater flexibility and often saves time and money on fuel.

From 2010 to 2017, the Columbus MSA averaged 7,077 building permits per year. Based on job growth projections, the Columbus MSA will average 14,300 to 21,227 new jobs every year through year 2050.

In order to support smart growth across central Ohio, residential and industrial developers need public utilities like water and sewer, as well as, electricity and natural gas. The challenge facing many communities is a lack of long-term natural gas supplies. Natural gas plays a key role in fueling smart growth!