Nursing Center Shutting Down Another Factor in Baldwin Unemployment Rate
A state nursing home in Milledgeville will be closing its doors next year leaving hundreds of people without a job.
"For many folks in Milledgeville and Baldwin County that was (their) first job and last job," Central State Hospital Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Michael Couch said.
The James B. Craig Nursing Center is closing its doors by December of 2013 at Central State Hospital leaving more than 350 people without a job.
"It's tough if you look at what the economic engine has been in this community for years, it was the state hospital and now it becomes a shadow of itself as far as employment goes,” Couch said.
The nursing center shutting down is just another devastating blow to the county that's already seen big corporations like air conditioning producer, Rheem relocate to Mexico leaving hundreds without a job.
"It's difficult, people are losing jobs out there, it's tough times,” Development Authority of the City of Milledgeville and Baldwin County Executive Director Matt Poyner said. “You know we're not unique in Milledgeville and Baldwin County losing jobs, people around the region are losing jobs.
In the last five years, Baldwin County's unemployment rate has jumped from 4 to 11.3 percent. It’s the second highest in Middle Georgia behind Twiggs County at 13.6 percent. Also the labor force has decreased from 25,000 to 17,000 people. Poyner said a few factors have caused these shifts.
"Wage rates,” Poyner said. “Rheem was a unionized facility; we are now non-union in Baldwin County. That's huge."
However as bad as the situation seems, Poyner said there's hope.
"We're seeing opportunities out there to succeed,” Poyner said. “This community has a good workforce. We have land. You know we feel prime to be ready to have opportunities to move forward."
Meanwhile Couch said the Department of Behavioral Health is working with the Central State Hospital Redevelopment Authority to provide the workers other opportunities in the next year.
"It's not a quick shut down,” Couch said. “We have 14 months counting this month but it's something we have to work on right now."