Monday, July 27, 2009

Spending stimulus dollars in rural Tennessee

Michael Cooper reports in today's New York Times on how stimulus funds are putting folks back to work quickly, New Deal-style, in nonmetropolitan Perry County, Tennessee, population 7,631. Here's an excerpt:
The state decided to spend some of its money to try to reduce unemployment by up to 40 percent here in Perry County, a small, rural county 90 miles southwest of Nashville where the unemployment rate had risen to above 25 percent after its biggest plant, the auto parts factory, closed.

Rather than waiting for big projects to be planned and awarded to construction companies, or for tax cuts to trickle through the economy, state officials hit upon a New Deal model of trying to put people directly to work as quickly as possible.

They are using welfare money from the stimulus package to subsidize 300 new jobs across Perry County, with employers ranging from the state Transportation Department to the milkshake place near the high school.

The grass-roots, fast-action sound of the program is certainly appealing, and Cooper reports that the June unemployment rate for the county fell to just over 22%. Still, folks in Perry County know they need a long-term solution to local economic woes, like the auto parts factory that closed and put so many in such dire straits so quickly.

No comments: