Hundreds Pack Utica Shale Conference

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You could almost feel the excitement for business opportunities from the state's burgeoning oil and gas industry at Wednesday's conference. Representatives from energy companies, hotels, manufacturers, and real estate developers fielded heavy flows of people looking to make business connections.

John Ramson is the Industrial Sales Manager at Trumbull Industries. The 89-year-old Ohio company is a wholesale distributor of plumbing and pipe systems. Standing on the busy conference floor, Ramson says no one knows for sure how big the region's oil and gas industry will get but he's hoping energy-related sales will double or triple his company's business.

John Ramson: The word is that there's drillers and all the people coming in and everything is going to magnify. There's a possibility of hotels being built. The potential is there. And we are all looking forward to it.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are making layers of organic rich earth deep under much of eastern Ohio newly available to energy companies. Protests by critics of the practice - known colloquially as fracking - were held near the conference. Some environmentalists worry the techniques can endanger drinking water.

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