Emsi Case Study (See Full Archive)
Riding the Energy Boom
Wood County, Wisconsin, is home to a unique, highly marketable natural resource: frac sand. This white sand just happens to be the type and quality that is ideal for hydraulic processing, or fracking, a method of extracting oil and gas from the ground (see Fracking’s Growing Demand For Quick Sand). As demand for oil increased, so too did the demand for frac sand, and Wood County—specifically the City of Marshfield—took several strategic steps to saddle up on supply. Its timing was fantastic.
Since before the recession, Wood County has been down on its luck. According to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, “The area has been struggling for the last decade with layoffs and mill closings as the paper industry shrinks there.” Now, however, sand mining has emerged as one of the county’s dominant industries and the area is seeing an influx of new jobs and new money.
Securing the Future With the Help of Reliable Data
How did Wood County move from A to B? Back in 2011, leaders in Marshfield, a town located in Wood County, sought to capitalize on the rush for sand that was spreading throughout the Midwest. The plan was to expand the mining and manufacturing of silica sands with four proposed new sand processing plants.
Before proceeding with its plan, the City of Marshfield covered its bases and commissioned Emsi to conduct a custom report that explored the economic impact these new businesses would have on Wood County. Would the project be good for the economy? How many new jobs would it create?
Emsi’s report gave Marshfield officials the answers they needed to move forward with confidence that the sand processing plants would contribute to the county’s economic vitality.
Hitting the Mark
The study was broken down into three phases detailing the impact Wood County would see over the course of eight years. Within a year after the construction of the facilities, all of which are in Marshfield city limits, the study estimated that the total increase of government revenues would be $1.5 million and would eventually grow to $2.6 million around year 2019.
Now, three years into the project, these figures are coming to fruition—and they are more than hitting the target. Though only three of the four proposed plants were built, the report provided an accurate range of results and the county is seeing the economy tracking with the report’s suggestions. Jason Angell, Marshfield Director of Planning and Economic Development, stated that they have met and even slightly exceeded Emsi’s figures. “We definitely met that goal,” he said. “You guys were spot-on.”
A Compass for Success
The report has also been valuable as a blueprint for keeping the project on track, as well as for helping project managers demonstrate success and keep easy accountability with investors. “Whenever somebody comes up with questions about the industry or whenever our council or county board asks for an update on how things are going,” said Angell, “the first thing they do is they refer to our report and say, ‘How do we think we’re doing? Do we think that we’re falling within this range? Have any of the decisions we’ve made altered what the projected outcomes would be?’ And our industry representatives have been very pleased with it.”
Revitalizing Wood County’s Economy
The report also projected that the sand processing plants would add close to 930 jobs—both direct and multiplier-effect jobs—to Wood County by year eight. Through September 2014, it has added 170 direct jobs at three plants, while unemployment has dropped and the county’s population has grown. Many of these jobs are new hires from outside the region, bringing in fresh money. “There is actual growth here—there’s no doubt about that,” said Angell. “They are pulling guys from other existing industries or businesses within the area and community, but the overall community continues to grow.”
As the sand-processing project has grown, Wood County’s economy has benefitted. And, as Emsi projected, the next several years should see the same kind of success.
Emsi turns labor market data into useful information that helps organizations understand the connection between economies, people, and work. Using sound economic principles and good data, we build user-friendly services that help educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers (such as WIBs, EDOs, chambers, utilities) build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions. For more information, email Josh Wright (email@example.com) or visit www.economicmodeling.com.