One job from my youth was working on my brother-in-law’s Lebanon County dairy farm. The least attractive farm job is stone-picking, which is worse than shoveling you know what!

While the month of March was roaring in like a lion, I was trudging through a muddy and desolate field to pick up all the stones so that the plow can run clean and true and the seeds that are thusly planted are well positioned to become a bumper crop. It was hard and unglamorous work, yet worth the effort.

For the last several years, approximately 125 business, labor, and public leaders have been “picking the stones” and laying the groundwork to create an Energy Hub for the Greater Philadelphia region. Under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, we have created the Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team in order to take full advantage of our emerging energy economy.

With the development of Marcellus and Utica natural gas shales, we have seen a resurgence of an energy industry and the good paying jobs that come with it. While Philadelphia is roughly 100 miles from the natural gas, we are already seeing the economic benefits right here in our region.

In the last year alone, the region has seen substantial new manufacturing opportunities due to the Marcellus Shale. These opportunities comprise 32 percent of activity versus 20 percent just a year ago. This includes both advanced manufacturing as well as heavy industrial projects — all due to lower cost and access to natural gas.

Sunoco Logistics is in the midst of receiving approval for a new pipeline, Mariner East II, a multiyear, multimillion-dollar investment. If approved, there would be approximately 7,000 people employed over a multiyear period during its construction, all of which would contribute toward revitalizing the Keystone state, creating a downstream economy while centralizing the production, transportation and distribution of natural gas.

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia is working through its Energy Action Team to capitalize on the Marcellus natural gas reserves and leverage the Greater Philadelphia’s energy and manufacturing assets to accelerate economic growth in these sectors. Our focus: to attract more energy-intensive manufacturing companies to southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware, and thereby grow demand for natural gas and NGLs and stimulate direct and indirect economic growth and job creation in the region.

If you would like to join us as “fellow stone pickers” so we can plant the seeds of economic growth and prosperity through energy and job growth, email me at rwonderling@chamberPHL.com.

Rob Wonderling is president and CEO of The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.