Atmore, Mobile job boom in sight

Published 9:48 pm Monday, October 6, 2008

By By Kerry Whipple-Bean
New job opportunities in Mobile County and Atmore will likely have a ripple effect throughout Escambia County, economic development officials said Tuesday.
With ThyssenKrupp looking to hire 2,700 people for a new steel plant in Mobile County and Poarch Creek Industries expected to hire up to 700 people for a new hotel and casino development in Atmore, local businesses could be looking to fill more positions as employees go elsewhere for jobs, said Al Etheridge, coordinator of workforce development in nine south Alabama counties.
While Brewton residents might not necessarily travel the 85 miles to Mobile County for a job with ThyssenKrupp, Etheridge provided a potential employment scenario.
Etheridge said local businesses will need a trained workforce to help fill their positions.
Etheridge’s office works with businesses and schools across a nine-county area, including Escambia County.
In addition to tending to the immediate needs of local businesses, Etheridge said his office is looking to educate students as young as elementary school about the job opportunities that will be available to them — and the job skills they will need.
The office is planning to visit elementary school students with industry leaders to talk about potential careers and job skills.
Etheridge pointed out that the need for skilled workers has increased over the years, while the need for professionals with four-year degrees has not.
He said encouraging students to look at education paths at two-year technical programs is important.
Former D.W. McMillan Hospital CEO Phillip Parker agreed that the need for skilled workers is growing. “We need nurses and LPNs,” he said.
Grant Cheney, existing industries director for Coastal Gateway Economic Development Authority, said industries in the region are concerned about the available workforce with new job opportunities at TK and other companies.

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