A natural gas exploration and production company is leasing corporate office space in a building in the city's downtown.
Range Resources, of Canonsburg, is leasing 8,000 square feet of floor space inside the M&T Bank building, 100 W. Third St., from Liberty Group.
Corporate and city officials held a news conference at the office Thursday afternoon, promising to initially bring 60 family-sustaining jobs, and more in the future.
Mark Windle, at podium, communications specialist for Range Resources, announces that the company will lease office space in the M&T Bank building owned by Liberty Group.
Andy Naporano, director of operations for Liberty Group, likened the potential of the Marcellus Shale play in the region to an oil boom experienced in Houston, Texas, in the 1970s and Silicon Valley's computer chip market in the 1980s and 1990s.
The agreement is for a long-term lease, not one lasting for two years, said Mark Windle, a communications specialist with Range Resources. "We're committed to downtown for years to come."
When asked what Range Resources does, Windle explained: "We're a general contractor. We're the company that puts the science and money behind the exploration of the Marcellus Shale."
Field-related jobs across the state start at $60,000, he said. "Some of our technicians are high school graduates and others hold double master of business administration degrees."
The company officials anticipate over the next couple of years to grow exponentially because of the discovery of some "phenomenal wells," he said.
"It's going to snowball," Windle said. "We're not new to the area but we're not as active as we have been in other parts of the state, but that is going to change."
Employees here will include supervisors and corporate office personnel handling administrative, engineering, environmental and health and safety, resources and regulatory aspects of the industry.
Windle said he anticipated a couple dozen workers should be arriving "starting next week."
Range Resources has been in the state more than 30 years and was among the first to drill in the Marcellus Shale in 2004 in Washington County, Windle said.
Jason Fink, executive director of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has been trying to find premium office space for the company for several months.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp., another business within the Marcellus Shale-related industry, has its offices at 33 W. Third St., and the Range Resources offices are a complement to that, Fink said.
Naporano credited city Mayor Gabriel J. Campana for helping to facilitate the move.
Campana said he would speak to the city's special events committee to develop a type of summer "hoedown" or street party with a Texas twist in honor of the new neighbors, many of whom are from Texas and other western states.