‘Proving the hypothesis’

Tim Martin of the Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority was the special guest speaker at the Wednesday, Sept. 26 meeting of Leadership Atmore Alumni held at the Mayson Auditorium. Martin encouraged the audience to strongly consider the implementation of the RU Ready system into Escambia County schools.

Martin was forthright in admitting he had selfish interests. If kids receive a better education, they’ll be more likely to receive work and he will be able to make more money. According to Martin, the problem is there aren’t enough qualified workers to fill jobs. He is already planning three million dollars for jobs in construction.

“My biggest job is finding people that can work,” Martin said.

Recently, when he tried to put together a work crew quickly for a special event, he had difficulty finding qualified workers.

“9 out of 13 we had hired couldn’t pass a background check,” Martin said.

This statement raised a few eyebrows in the audience.

According to Martin, 65% of jobs today require some kind of semi-skilled training.

The impact of the arrival of Airbus may be felt in as little as two years. According to Martin, anywhere from 21,000 to 30,000 are expected to be added in the area in the coming years. He is concerned there won’t be enough qualified workers to fill such a need. However, RU Ready is the main item that provides him with optimism. He said early results are promising.

“We’re proving the hypothesis—that it does work,” Martin said. “We have the potential of growing tremendously in this community.”

While overall plans are still tentative, an eight-screen theater, a bowling alley, an arcade, a yogurt shop and a restaurant are all still part of the additions planned to occur at Wind Creek in the same lot as the Wind Creek Casino complex. A health clinic for people under the group’s health insurance plan has also been discussed.

Martin said there’s no reason to not support RU Ready. A student only needs to devote five minutes per week to maintain it and they will have a chance to develop a strong portfolio while in the high school levels in order to prepare them for the working world, where they will need resumes and similar items supported through the RU Ready program.

At the conclusion of Martin’s presentation, probate judge Emilie Mims also urged audience members to support the program.

“We’ve got to start with the people who come through the schools,” Mims said. “I really think this is the answer. It’s all about using this as a tool.”

Mims said she foresees Escambia County schools responding favorably to the program, but that it will also be important for community members to hold schools accountable.

“I really think the schools are going to be doing this, but I think we have to remind them we expect them to do this,” Mims said. “This will get them on track to get the skills that they need.”