- Associated Press - Sunday, October 15, 2017

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - Manufacturing jobs are on the rise in southeast Alabama.

Houston County experienced a 21 percent increase in manufacturing jobs within the past year, the Dothan Eagle reported . It topped by a substantial margin all other Alabama counties. That includes Greene County, which experienced the second-largest increase at 15.5 percent.

The jump follows a 12.8 percent rise in manufacturing Houston County experienced from March 2015 to March 2016.

“Just in past three years we have seen 3,000-plus announced and created jobs in the industrial sector and $500 million of investment,” said Matt Parker, Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce president. “(There are) new investments and major expansions in our marketplace - a lot of energy in our market right now.”

Houston County’s unemployment rate fell from 6.1 percent to 4.2 percent in the past year. About 1,400 more jobs exist in the area.

Parker attributed the manufacturing growth to civic partnerships and initiatives throughout the area and the state.

“Collaboration with city, county, chamber and having (a) regional view with other governmental partners are key to growing our area,” he said. “Our leaders understand the power of regionalism, and the focus is meeting a project’s needs and marketing sites and available buildings to create opportunities.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its annual Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages report.

Parker said the biggest percentage of growth occurred in the 22- to 24-year-old sector. He attributed that success to partnerships with Alabama Industrial Development Training, the Alabama Department of Commerce, Dothan Area Career Center and Wallace Community College and investments in programs like Southeast Alabama Works and K-12 programs.

“I am happy to see the jump in impacting the 22-24 year old sector because this is exposing this demographic to great opportunities to develop great careers,” Parker said. “If we can get more folks on the ground floor in career technical fields, they can see great upward mobility in growing their careers, income, and opportunities.”


Information from: The Dothan Eagle, https://www.dothaneagle.com

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