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Grant would help create job training school

Joyce Blevins says one of the biggest boosts to the local economy would be to put people who currently find themselves unemployed back to work.

She realizes the magnitude of the problem and vows to do something about it.

"I want to do something about this problem, because it's only going to get worse if we don't," said Mrs. Blevins, director of One Stop, a state-funded agency that helps qualified people find jobs. The office, which is funded through the Georgia Department of Labor, is located in Thomson.

Mrs. Blevins strongly believes she has a solution to solving some of the unemployment problem in this region of the state.

Like many good ideas, it comes with a price tag, though.

Again, she believes she has the answer.

Mrs. Blevins met with officials of the City of Thomson and McDuffie County commissioners last Monday to discuss the possibility of starting a local job training program that would be supported by a state grant and operated by The Shaw Group, Inc.

A grant in the amount of $4 million is being sought, Mrs. Blevins pointed out.

The grant funds would help send students through the training school, according to McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton.

"We're behind you 100 percent," Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry said.

Mr. Newton said he had spoken with Mrs. Blevins about her idea and that she has his full support, too.

"This could be something really great for this entire area and help put a lot of people back to work," Mr. Newton said.

Augusta Technical College President Terry Elam also has been informed about the proposed idea and has indicated his support of it, too, according to Mrs. Blevins.

Riley Stamey, chairman of the Thomson-McDuffie Industrial Development Authority, said officials with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs also are supportive of the idea.

"They're very willing to help us make this project successful," Mr. Stamey said.

Mrs. Blevins' idea is to have The Shaw Group, Inc. train workers for such jobs as the ones needed for the future construction of two nuclear reactors at Georgia Power Company's Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro.

She estimated that between 300 and 400 workers could be trained locally a year. Such a training site could be in existence for several years.

Initial plans call for the training school to be located in a part of the old Thomson Company building, directly across from a warehouse currently being leased by Thomson Plastics.

Mr. Newton explained that officials with The Shaw Group want to help get a job training school up and running in Thomson.

Currently that building is occupied by a tenant, who no longer is doing business there. Local officials have indicated that they are negotiating with that tenant and the building could be used as the training site.

"Several surrounding counties would be able to benefit from this training facility -- not just Thomson and McDuffie County," Mrs. Blevins said.

"I'm very excited about the possibility of helping people get jobs that don't currently have jobs. That's the only thing that is going to turn our economy around -- is that people have jobs and bring home a check."



Web posted on Thursday, December 31, 2009













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