Run - don't walk, run - to Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling areas if you are a welder or pipe fitter or engineer or a company that can deliver such people to companies already operating in the fields.
That was the message from natural gas industry panelists to other businesspeople convened by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce on Friday at the Doubletree Hotel in Center City.
"Construction companies based here are setting up operations where the activity is and supplying trained people, but we need more trained people to fill those jobs," panel moderator James Balaschak of Deloitte said afterward.
Being a cost-effective and reliable supplier is only a starting point, said David Sexton, vice president of business development for Sunoco Logistics, which is setting up a pipeline to ship ethane, a drilling byproduct, to Philadelphia for distribution to plants along the Gulf of Mexico. Ethane is used to make plastics.
"The thing that differentiates firms today is how quickly you can move resources, goods, services, people to whatever point it is needed by supply chain users," Sexton told the audience.
Dominic V. O'Brien wants more jobs closer to Philadelphia than upstate counties because he is a senior marketing representative for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.
"My goal is to get more cargo across the docks, and we want to see more pipelines and more pipe coming across the docks," O'Brien said afterward. "The other ingredients, the machinery, to the degree possible, we want it to come across our docks and hopefully for exports. We can't take a stand on liquefied natural gas - I know the compression part of it is very controversial - but to the degree it can be done safely, we want that to go out over our river."
Sexton told the crowd, "That is a lucrative business, but also a controversial business. If the port wanted to do that, that would be an interesting opportunity."
Aside from more big tanks on shore and the bigger tankers floating on a deeper-dredged Delaware River, there would be environmental objections to a liquefied natural gas terminal. Natural gas facilities, at a few bad moments in history, have produced some nasty explosions. Also, part of the gas industry's public relations pitch for allowing the controversial gas-extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is to reduce costs of domestic energy, an idea undercut if supplies are shipped to Asia and Europe for gas company profit.
Asked later about the environmentalists' challenges that might come, Sexton chuckled and mostly declined to comment.
"I will say for the record that our company is incredibly sensitive to operating in an environmentally safe way," he said.
Philadelphia Media Network, parent company of The Inquirer, was one of the sponsors of the event.