TUNKHANNOCK — Two months ago, Helen Humphreys sat in her cluttered Williams Energy field office downtown in this Wyoming County borough surrounded by exhibit displays and stacks of binders.
Outside the room, clerical employees and field workers shuffled around each other in the converted credit union building. Technicians’ gear and road signs were stacked in corners neatly, but obviously out of place in the former bank.
It was not a scene you’d expect for an operator of some of the country’s largest pipeline systems. Williams has grown from six employees in Northeastern Pennsylvania to more than 100 in a 2 1/2 years, and the growth has inspired construction of the company’s new field office on the outskirts of town, said Mike Dickinson, a Williams operations manager.
Humphreys, a strategic outreach coordinator for the company, kicked off a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday to announce Williams’ new 30,000-square-foot field office to be completed by spring 2014.
“This is a celebration for us,” she said. “It’s been a long-time coming.”
The building, to be located just before Stony Mountain Road on northbound state Route 29, is to have 22,000 square feet for offices and another 7,500 square feet of staging space for employees preparing for field work.
“It’ll be exciting to have everybody in one place,” Dickinson said.
Geographically, the building sits in a strategic place for Williams’ northeastern work, Dickinson said. A recent long-term agreement with Cabot Oil & Gas, a drilling company that holds most of its gas leases in nearby Susquehanna County, and future planned endeavors all may be better piloted from the Wyoming County office, Dickinson said.
Jim Rogers of Bear Creek designed the building and said that as far as square footage goes, it’s been his Dalton practice’s largest project yet. Milnes Companies of Tunkhannock is Williams’ general contractor in Northeastern Pennsylvania and is to oversee the construction to completion.
The pre-design plans were completed last fall and they have been working on building permits until now. All that’s left is to start building, Rogers said.
The new construction will not bring new jobs immediately. Dickinson said that with employees spread all over the northeast, the building will be a much-needed hub for current employees, 70 percent of whom are state natives.
The groundbreaking was one of Gina Severcool Getts’ first public appearances as the newly hired Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce executive director.
Getts said she was raised in Tunkhannock but spent 10 years in and around Scranton fundraising for the American Cancer Society and then the Muscular Distrophy Association.
She said it’s great to see her hometown growing with the gas industry.
“It’s obvious they’re here to stay,” Getts said. “It’s time we learn to work with them.”