The Marcellus Shale Coalition on Tuesday launched the first online business directory designed to connect the natural gas industry with small- and medium-sized regional companies.
Marcellus on Main Street provides a list of various business types for workers who might not be familiar with the area, as a way to promote the smaller local businesses.
"Small local businesses will be able to reach out to oil and gas companies," Eric Cowden, community outreach manager, said. "That's our intent. It's going to work."
Beth Powell, managing director for New Pig, said the directory is something her company could use because it often looks for necessary businesses when visiting various locations.
"We spend a lot of time looking for food," Powell said.
Her team also sometimes needs clothes replaced and does not know where to get them fixed.
"I wish this was opened a year ago," she said.
About 300 companies were pre-enrolled for the launch by being members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, Cowden said.
Members can view company pages of more than just industry, food and clothes businesses. The list potentially could include hotels, dry cleaners, barbers, printers and car rentals, he said.
"It's a variety of businesses," Cowden said.
The entrepreneurs and small businesses are not limited to energy and services companies, contractors and suppliers in Pennsylvania. New York, West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio can sign up for the annual membership.
By including other states, Cowden said companies can map out all of their the needs along the way on a trip across the "Marcellus Shale footprint."
So far, most companies are in the commonwealth, but some out-of-state companies already are using the directory.
"We're looking to grow (the website) and expand into neighboring states," Cowden said.
The event previewing the directory was held across the state simultaneously. In addition to Williamsport, coalition staff announced it in Philadelphia, Johnstown, Washington and Cranberry Township.
"This is our first adventure launching a new program in multiple locations," he said.
Another feature the website offers is an event page.
Members can fully customize the look of their company page with contact information, a logo, provided services and testimonials.
Getting businesses to use it is what will improve it, Cowden said.
"It's only as good as the companies in it that participate," he said.
Regional chambers of commerce also are included in the web-based portals.
The Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored the event held in the Genetti.
As another way to feature the website, the coalition spoke to its members during the past two monthly meetings about the new directory.
For more information, visit MarcellusOnMainStreet.org.