Jobless rate is good, industries coming in

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

The state of Alabama has been seeing a very low unemployment rate for several months now, and Crenshaw County is no exception.

In June, the county saw an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, according to Jim Brook, Executive Director for Crenshaw County Economic and Industrial Development Authority, Inc.

&#8220That number is just ahead of the past months, but that is because of the kids being out for school,” Brook said.

&#8220Our county's manufacturing industries are looking at a 3 to 4-percent unemployment rate, which really means you're pretty much fully employed,” he added. &#8220Of course, that's a good thing.”

Brook said that because Crenshaw County has a small population, the closing of one manufacturing plant could greatly affect the county's workforce.

&#8220If that happened, we could see unemployment back up to 13 percent like it was in 1999,” he said. &#8220We need to maintain a good relationship with our existing industries and employers. That is where the job growth occurs.”

Economic development, overall, is a long-term process, Brook said.

&#8220Programs that you develop today may not show results for 10 years or more,” he added. &#8220Economic development does not happen overnight.”

According to Brook, an apparel manufacturer is coming into the southern end of the county and should be in full operation by the middle of August.

&#8220A cut-and-sew operation is unusual to see because most of them have moved offshore to find cheaper labor forces,” Brook said. &#8220The closing of so many textile manufacturing plants contributed to the high rate of unemployment in this county during the 1990s, so we are excited about this new manufacturer.”

Robin Snellgrove, the assistant director for CCEIDA, said that the new industry should employ approximately 90 people and that anyone who is interested should contact Alabama's Career Center System, which is located on South Forest Avenue in Luverne. The number is 335-2300.

&#8220We are a separate entity from the career center,” Snellgrove said. &#8220We don't employ people here at CCEIDA, and I'm afraid some people have that impression.”

Also, Brook said that a travel and resort-related development project toward the southern end of the county is presently under study, and that, if realized, could bring a tremendous amount of retail and travel tax monies into the county.

&#8220However, the feasibility of that particular project has not been completed yet,” Brook added.

Snellgrove said that the SMART Plant is, yet again, expanding its facilities.

&#8220They have nearly 800 employees right now, which is twice the amount they had originally intended to employ,” she said.

The new facilities at SMART include a new warehousing facility, but it does not include the need for additional new employees.

&#8220We will also have another industry within the county that will be planning an expansion in the very near future, and that will include additional jobs at that time,” Snellgrove added.