Athens Developer Looks Toward Gas Drilling

Fred Kight

Updated Sun, Jun 17, 2012 6:01 pm

Ohio University is the big economic force in Athens, no doubt about it, but Brent Hayes has some influence, too.

Although he lives out in the country, Hayes is going to town, literally and figuratively, on his business ventures.
Brent Hayes is co-owner of The Market on State and State Side Technology Park.
The shopping mall and business center are a significant part of the Athens economy.
"The community has obviously been good to me and my family, we've been very fortunate.  I'm the sixth generation on the same farm since 1877; I have no plans of leaving Athens. There's been a lot of people here, the community has been good to us and it means a lot to us to see the community do well. We can do things to bring work to this area, jobs, you know, that makes you feel good when you can see things happening," says Hayes.
Real estate development is fairly new for Hayes. His first business was contracting. He is now also involved in construction, heavy equipmental rentals and commercial and residential real estate.  He says he has 10 to 12 business partners, though doesn't keep track of the exact number.
Hayes is 50 years old and says he likes to stay busy, a trait he attributes to his father.
"One day, he gave me some jobs to do and in the first job, something broke, I can't remember what it was, so my dad comes home and he says 'did you get these things done?' and I said 'no, this piece of equipment broke' and he said 'well I'm going to tell you something, there's plenty here on the farm, there's plenty of things to do.  Don't ever do nothing, always do something.' He said there's always something to do.  And from that time, for employees or myself, that's pretty good advice," said Hayes.
So now Hayes is taking on another project - oil and gas.
"I might like this oil and gas a lot, it depends on how our well turns out.  If it turns out to be a good producing well, that'll be a lot of fun, could be a lot of fun. If it turns out to be not so good, we'll still have a lot of fun doing it," said Hayes.
Hayes says the drilling is an experiment.
He explains the plan is to drill a test well vertically and collect data.  Ideally, he says, they'd like to produce Point Pleasant Utica shale through the vertical well, but if that doesn't work out, he hopes to use the well for another type of shale, either Medina or Berea.
"There's a lot of good, hard-working farmers and landowners that I'd really like to see this materialize for them. I would like to see the resource be there just for the community," said Hayes.
Hayes has been praised for stepping in to save the floundering University Mall, making improvements and renaming it The Market on State.
The same was the case with the State Side Technology Park…which was empty after McBee shut down.
But he's been criticized, too, for clear-cutting and excavating land along US Route 50 east of Athens.
Hayes says there are some folks who have a problem and don't like change, but change is just a part of his business.