Vidalia seeks industry to get jobs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – Vidalia officials are working on attracting an industrial prospect in hopes of reducing Concordia Parish’s jobless rate – now the state’s highest for three months running.

&uot;We’re actually working with two prospects, but only one’s in the final stages,&uot; Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said. &uot;We hope to resolve that … in the next month.&uot;

But Copeland isn’t saying much about two companies town officials are talking with because the industries want to keep the information confidential.

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&uot;And I&160;don’t want to give people false hope,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;I’ve been down that road with Avondale.&uot;

After local officials worked for months to get Avondale Industries to locate in Vidalia, the shipbuilder decided in March 1998 that it needed to locate somewhere with rail service and major highways.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Louisiana Department of Labor late Monday listed Concordia Parish as having the state’s highest unemployment rate for October with 13.3 percent.

Concordia Parish also had the state’s highest jobless rates for August and September – 12.9 and 13.5 percent, respectively.

&uot;I’m not sure what’s causing it,&uot;&160;said Buddy Spillers, president of the Macon Ridge Economic Development Authority. &uot;The crops are laid by and the (cotton) gins aren’t working, but business in the oilfield ought to be picking up.&uot;

But Sally Frazier, a workforce development officer with Ferriday’s Department of Labor office, said late fall and early winter are usually a time of seasonal layoffs in the parish.

With the harvest completed, many farms lay off their employees at this time of year, she said. In addition, colder weather puts a damper on outdoor work like construction, the timber industry and some petroleum-related work.

&uot;We’re just hoping some new industry will come in here and put more of our people back to work,&uot;&160;Frazier said. &uot;But we haven’t heard anything about that yet.&uot;