McDuffie County is now one of 19 counties in Georgia to be recognized by state officials as a Certified Work Ready Community.
"This is a great honor for us," said McDuffie County Forward Director Mike Carrington. "This is something that a lot of us had been working to achieve since 2007."
Joyce Blevins, director of One-Stop, one of 20 job work service centers in Georgia, said she was pleased to hear that McDuffie County had been so honored.
"It just gives us another feather in our cap to show industrial leaders that we have a work force ready to go to work," Mrs. Blevins said during a telephone interview on Monday.
She also said it shows industry leaders that McDuffie County has people capable of learning whatever job skills are needed should an existing business want to settle here or a new industry get started here.
"We want to offer people jobs," Mrs. Blevins said, adding that rural areas of the state have people capable of learning jobs just like larger areas. "We just don't have as many people as those larger areas have."
Mrs. Blevins, former chairwoman of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners, said she looks forward to working and promoting the Certified Work Ready Community Program. And so does Mr. Carrington and many others.
"This is a good working tool for us," Mr. Carrington said. "It's going to really help us down the road, because it's such a positive program."
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue officially announced Sept. 3 that McDuffie County is one of seven counties in the state to receive such an honored designation. The other six counties receiving the same recent status include: Barrow, Bleckley, Brooks, Catoosa, Pike and Ware.
"By becoming work ready, these communities are positioning themselves for future growth," Gov. Perdue said in a prepared statement. "The communities are building the skilled workforce that employers rely on to succeed and grow."
Mr. Carrington, who serves as the local team leader for the Certified Work Ready Community Program, said the county received a $35,000 grant earlier this year to promote and advertise it to the community, including educators. He said he spoken to a host of teachers about the program over lunch and that everyone he had talked with had been most supportive of it.
Local educational administrators also have expressed support for the new Certified Work Ready Community Program. In addition to local school board members, including School Superintendent Jim LeBrun, other educators also are on board. They include Augusta Technical College and local industries.
In preparing for such a status, McDuffie County earned 869 work ready certificates -- 164 percent above their goal. The county saw its school graduation rate climb from 72.7 percent to 77.6 percent, according to figures released from the governor's office.
"This is a program that we've needed in this county for a long, long time," Mr. Carrington said. "It's going to be good for Thomson, Dearing and McDuffie County."
He said there had been great support for the new program from elected officials in Thomson, Dearing and McDuffie County.
"Everybody we've talked to has bought into this new program, because it's such a good program," Mr. Carrington added. "It's a program that benefits everybody."
A large banner signifying McDuffie County as a 2009 Certified Work Ready Community is expected to be presented to Mr. Carrington when he attends the Certified Work Ready Communities Summit at Lake Blackshear Resort and Golf Club in Cordele, Ga., on Sept. 24.
"We're hoping that the Georgia Department of Transportation will allow us to put up a couple of signs proclaiming our Certified Work Ready Community status, too," Mr. Carrington said.
For more information about the Certified Work Ready Communities initiative, please visit the following Web site: www.gaworkready.org.