More than half of America’s recent college graduates are unemployed or have low-wage jobs unrelated to their field of academic study, according to a recent Associated Press report. I completed my undergraduate degree just last year and easily could have been included in that statistic. Like many young people born and raised in New York’s Southern Tier, one of my biggest fears was being unable to find a good job in my hometown, where the economy has been slow to recover and employment opportunities are scarce.

Luckily, I have managed to defy that statistic, thanks to natural gas development. I was fortunate enough to create my own livelihood right here in Vestal. Along with several friends and family members, I started my own company, Crosshair Consultants of New York, which provides safety and compliance services to the transportation sector. These services enable our clients to satisfy the requirements set forth by the U.S Department of Transportation. By spotting regulatory requirements and developing plans to comply with them as soon as possible, we help transportation companies focus on what they do best: keeping America moving.

What does this have to do with natural gas? Demand for our consulting services has largely been driven by natural gas developers in neighboring Pennsylvania who need oversight of fleets used to transport resources to and from well sites. Crosshair Consultants is just one example of how the natural gas industry is benefitting business here in New York. My father’s company — Vestal Asphalt, which he has owned for nearly 40 years — has expanded remarkably as a result of natural gas development. In the past three years alone, Vestal Asphalt has hired 80 new employees in New York.

With this kind of growth happening as a result of natural gas development in another state, it’s not hard to imagine the economic growth that will take place once New York finally taps into our own natural gas resources in the Marcellus Shale. It will be good for business and good for our economy.

Some have questioned how we can take advantage of these benefits without damaging our environment or affecting the health of our communities. I, too, want to make sure we protect the place where I grew up and plan to make my adult life, and I believe that with any industry, careful and thoughtful regulation is the solution. I know firsthand that when there are laws in place to guide industry activity, risk can be managed and accidents avoided. Here in New York, all signs indicate that the proposed regulations for our natural gas industry will be the toughest in the nation and include best practices that will protect our natural resources, well-being and quality of life.

Natural gas development gave me the opportunity to come home to the place I love and play an active role in helping rebuild our local economy. With the proper safeguards in place, development of New York’s Marcellus Shale will help ensure that more of my peers and future generations have that same opportunity.

Guiles, of Vestal, is the founder and owner of Crosshair Consultants of New York.