Created: Mon, 05 Aug 2013 06:12:00 EST
Updated: Mon, 05 Aug 2013 08:09:20 EST
Telfair County unfortunately claimed Georgia's highest unemployment rate at 20.9% for the month of June. The county is a Georgia certified "Work Ready" county, but nearly a quarter of its residents are looking for work.
"It's been a concern for a long time," said Herman Moore, Chairman of the Telfair County Development Authority. "We just seem to be spinning in quicksand in our area."
A decade ago, the county's industrial business was booming.
"we had the Georgia Power district office here, also had Container Corporations district office and Union Camp district office," said Moore.
The only thing booming now is the unemployment rate sitting just below 21 percent. Why? Because over the last decade, those businesses along with others, have left.
There was also a medicaid claims facility, that employed 75 to 80 people which reportedly fell victim to politics. Then the 120-personnel hospital that followed suit and many others.
"That hurts with a small community like us," said Moore.
Currently, Telfair is left with just three job creators. A state and federal prison that according to Telfair County Commission Chairwoman Cheryl Clark many residents "are not eligible to work at for various reasons".
The one bright spot is the Husqvarna plant. The plant builds lawnmowers but hires seasonally. The plant employs 600 full-time employees and up to 14 hundred seasonal workers.
"That makes our unemployment jump up, then in October they'll probably go back to work and unemployment will come down," said Moore. "But it's(unemployment) still high even when they are in full swing."
The county has numerous industrial sites ripe for the picking but as of now, cannot get a suitor. The county is leasing some of the 43-acre Telfair County Industrial Park to Georgia Power.
Moore says Telfair is in partnerships with surrounding communities to bring in more jobs and is willing to work with any county to get the numbers down.
"We got to think regional, we can't think Telfair," said Moore.
Moore says the county also has a 69-thousaand square foot building that recently received some attention but was passed on because lacked docking ports. He says he wants to renovated the building to meet future needs but the county doesn't have the funding.
Until the county can revive its industrial life, 20.9 percent of its residents continue to look for work.