NASHVILLE - Gov. Phil Bredesen today announced a plan to reduce unemployment in Marshall County by putting up to 175 people back to work using federal dollars available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Marshall County has had the state's highest unemployment rate - 19.1 percent in February - for the past three months and includes 2,330 currently unemployed residents. Federal economic stimulus money is to be spent to combat unemployment, the governor said.
"This jobs package will put people back to work and provide some much needed assistance to these residents who are feeling the effects of this economic downturn," Bredesen said. "One of the primary goals of the Recovery Act is to put people back to work, and I'm glad the state can bring this assistance to Marshall County residents during these tough times."
The 175 positions include government and private sector job opportunities that will be funded through September 2010 by Recovery Act dollars allocated to the Tennessee Department of Human Services. These positions include 50 highway maintenance worker positions within the Tennessee Department of Transportation and 125 positions that will be filled primarily by private sector companies seeking to hire additional staff.
Residents of Marshall County must meet certain income and asset requirements to be eligible for these positions. To be eligible, a family's income cannot be greater than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. That qualifies a family of three with an income of $2,030 per month, and a family of four with $2,444 household income per month. Meanwhile, their readily accessible financial resources cannot exceed $2,000. In addition, residents must have a child younger than 18 years old living in their household.
A job fair for Marshall County residents will be held on April 20, a Tuesday, at the Lewisburg Recreation Center located at 1551 Mooresville Highway from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Those interested in the job creation program who meet the eligibility requirements are encouraged to attend the job fair where they will have the opportunity view a list of available positions and complete an application for employment.
A similar program has been conducted in other Tennessee counties where residents were able to fill out one application form and people working at the job fair helped applicants by photo copying the forms so people could apply to as many jobs as they felt qualified. That way they wouldn't have to fill out the form more than once.
The Marshall County jobs package is similar to the program announced in May 2009 for Perry County, which, at the time, had the state's highest rate of unemployment. More than 400 unemployed individuals found jobs as a result of that effort. At the Perry County announcement, Bredesen stated his desire to make this a model that could be implemented in other high-unemployment counties and subsequently announced similar programs in Lauderdale and Hancock counties.
"The goal of this effort is to use Recovery Act funds to provide assistance where it's needed most," Bredesen said. "Our state's economy continues to suffer and thousands of Tennesseans are struggling. We'll continue look for creative ways to assist counties with high rates of unemployment."
Marshall County residents who need unemployment assistance can contact the Tennessee Career Center at Lewisburg, located at 980 South Ellington Parkway, or by calling 359-9726. The Career Center is in the main building at the Columbia State Community College Lewisburg campus. The Career Center office is accessed from the building's front door, straight through the main lobby.