County unemployment below state average

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 15, 2008

NATCHEZ — New developments are springing up all over Adams County, and now the numbers prove the impact.

Adams County’s unemployment numbers are lower than the state average.

Numbers from January show a 6 percent unemployment rate, a 1 percent drop from the same time last year.

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Adams County is doing better than the state’s overall 6.4 percent unemployment rate.

A quick look around at the Country Inn and Suites, the Hampton Inn, Grand Soleil Casino, Corrections Corporation of America and Delta Biofuels, to name a few, reveals why.

After the loss of International Paper Company, which escalated unemployment rates into the double digits, it’s nice to see the percentage so low, Mayor Phillip West said.

“Honestly speaking, I think we have an opportunity for it to be the lowest in the state,” West said.

The addition of the proposed Rentech plant could create 150-plus jobs.

“I think we’ll do even better in the next couple of years,” he said.

Chamber of Commerce Director Debbie Hudson said the only impediment might be Natchez Regional Medical Center making staffing cuts, but is sure that won’t happen.

“I would even expect, other than our hospital woes, as long as we don’t have cuts, we should be able to maintain, if not, lower that rate,” she said.

Jeff Rowell, executive director of Natchez-Adams County Development Authority, said Katrina brought in a lot of new businesses, profiting from the Gulf Opportunity Act of 2005, a bill signed by President Bush to help gulf coast communities rebuild.

He said this has helped bring in a lot of business.

And asalways, being located on the Mississippi River is an advantage when it comes to economic development.

“Being on the river is still tremendous to our economy,” Rowell said. “It still is and always has been our No. 1 asset.”

Correction Corporations of America will create between 300 and 325 jobs, said Steve Owen, communications director for CCA.

Those are just the new jobs to be created. Construction will also create many jobs, Owen said.

“We’ll be utilizing a lot of local contractors,”

The Hampton Inn employs between 25 and 30 employees, General Manager Janelle Williams said.

“We put an ad in the newspaper on a Sunday for one day and by Tuesday I had 150 resumes that had been sent in,” Williams said.

What Williams ran into while sifting through the resumes was that many of the applicants weren’t qualified for the job.

“I think there needs to be some more specialized training in the area with all he new hotels coming in,” she said.

Hudson said that many jobs are available but potential employees just don’t have the skills.

“It’s not that there aren’t jobs, it’s just the right people for the right position,” Hudson said.

Williams said she specialized training could be something for the city to look into because this will also bring in more businesses.

“If you don’t have the potential employees that are trained, a lot of businesses won’t come into town because they feel they won’t have that work force,” Hudson said.