Jobless rate drop is great!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 28, 2005

The news that Butler County's unemployment rate continued is dramatic drop from double-digit levels just a few short months ago is very encouraging news. The reality that the unemployment rate is back to a level not seen in more than 25 years is proof that the investment the city and county has made in bringing jobs is starting to pay off.

While we feel that the residual affects of the low jobless rate are still yet to come in the form of stability in the work force and a good process of recruiting and training the employees of the future, the low jobless rate is good news and we'll take it.

The logical next step is the dramatic need to find housing for workers who will be moving into the county to make themselves available for the still hundreds of jobs that are yet to come.

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The facts are simple- there is little to no rental housing or apartment rental property in Greenville, something we desperately need in order to keep those sales tax dollars in our community. Workers who work here, but live somewhere else, will take those dollars home with them and we need to keep them here in order to be able to maximize our ability to circulate those funds locally and build upon the existing infrastructure that will be needed to position Greenville for growth.

The worst thing that can happen is that we don't address those housing needs and population shift that will surely follow the expansion of the automobile industry in south Alabama passes us by.

As former Alabama Development Office head Todd Strange said last year when addressing the Butler County Manufacturer's Association, "First comes the jobs, then the rooftops, then the retail expansion."

We feel Strange is correct and that scenario is the natural progression of the logical growth cycle.

We hope that one of the next waves of growth will come from developers who recognize the need for housing and make the same investment in the future that has been made to date.