The past few years have been extremely tough for Clay County with the stagnant national economy and the loss of many manufacturing jobs. These losses have caused us to suffer with inordinately high unemployment for our county. It's tough times like these that motivate community leaders and elected officials to search for answers and solutions that create jobs for our community. It's been my conviction that if our citizens have jobs many of the social ills we experience will be resolved.
Obviously teen pregnancy, school drop out rates, and fatherless households will not be completely cured by bringing more jobs to our county, but these problems can be more easily attacked by providing jobs, which brings stability to households, removes people from welfare rolls and gives self esteem to an individual.
How do we create these jobs? My belief is that through regional partnerships with our neighboring municipalities and counties, we will achieve a successful formula for job creation.
There is fierce competition for the few large economic projects available in today's economy. The economic development resources that can be mustered through regional cooperation gives us a much better chance at landing these economic development projects and will give Clay County's citizens the opportunity for the jobs that will be created by these large projects.
How do we create these jobs? By having a large dedicated industrial site that would be shovel ready for a project when it comes knocking. We currently don't have a designated industrial site, but sorely need one. Clay County has the power (Tennessee Valley Authority), transportation (rail and four-lane highway) and geographical location to get projects to take a second look at us. Let's be ready.
How do we create these jobs? By having an educated work force that is willing to work. We have so many educational opportunities in our area. I'm not referring exclusively to liberal arts education, but educational opportunities that train students to be proficient in skilled manufacturing positions that modern manufacturing requires. These opportunities are right here at West Point High School-Career and Technology Center and East Mississippi Community College. With the Tuition Free Program offered by the Clay County Board of Supervisors to attend EMCC, there is no excuse for our citizens to claim that there are no opportunities for educational advancement.
If jobs are going to be created then we must all be prepared and ready; community leaders, elected officials and each and every citizen.