SCDA Touts Water System

The Stephens County Development Authority will focus its efforts on wooing members of the beverage industry to Stephens County.

“With our water system, it’s a good match,” said SCDA executive director Tim Martin, adding that the SCDA is still actively researching and recruiting a wide range of industries.

“We do try to maintain aggressive outreach,” he told city and county commissioners during the annual SCDA update given to both commissions earlier this month.

Martin reported on the activities and contacts of the SCDA over the past year.

He said the number of industry representatives who have spoken with the SCDA but have not visited the county or met in person with SCDA members has gone down slightly in the past year, but that the number of potential industry representatives who have visited the county has gone up slightly.

Martin said he and the authority’s various committees continue to stay in close contact with a network of individuals – from state and federal government officials to business and industry consultants and representatives – to get the information about Stephens County out to a wide base of prospects.

Click here to read the full article: SCDA touts water system

NGTC Among Nations Fastest Growing Colleges

Enrollment at the 26 colleges of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) has grown at a record pace over the last couple of years with the addition of out-of-work and under-employed Georgians who are looking to learn new skills and retool for in-demand careers in today’s highly competitive job market.

The surge in student enrollment has earned North Georgia Technical College (NGTC), along with 14 other TCSG colleges, the distinction of being among the fastest-growing public two-year colleges in the nation.

“The exponential growth we have seen here at the college these last few years has been great,” NGTC president Steve Dougherty said.

“I have to give the credit to our outstanding faculty and staff who have done a great job during tough times and they always focus first on our students,” Dougherty said.

Read the article: NGTC fastest growing colleges

Unemployment for November

According to figures released by the Georgia Department of Labor, Stephens County's preliminary unemployment rate for November came in at 10.7 percent. That represents an increase of eight-tenths of a percent from October's final rate of 9.9 percent. Last month's preliminary unemployment rate in Stephens County is lower than November 2009, when unemployment was 10.9 percent.

SCDA Highlights Sage Automotive Interiors

Sage Automotive Interior is an international business developing and manufacturing automotive body cloth-seating, door panel surfaces and headliners for automotive manufacturers around the world.

The company's global headquarters is located in Greenville, S.C., and has manufacturing locations in the U.S., Japan, China, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. The company considers consumer research sustainability and innovative problem solving as its core strengths.

Sage Automotive Interiors, formerly Milliken & Company, has been present in Stephens County for almost 40 years. Manufacturing plants in teh U.S. are located in Detroit, Minnesota, and in Toccoa. The plant in Stephens County is located on Highway 17 with an area of 40.32 acres that has three buildings with total combined square feet of 306,076. The Avalon plant supplies nearly 100% of the polyester yarn for the subsequent processes here in the U.S. The plant also has other processes which includes texturing, warping, beaming, and slashing.

SCDA salutes and congratulates Sage Automotive Interiors for their 164 employees.

Two local men are recipients of awards from the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission

Recently, Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin was named as the GMRC's Appointed Official of the year and L.J. Harrison was selected as the Council Member of the Year for the GMRC. Both men received the awards at the commission's Annual Awards Dinner on December 3 in Dillard, GA.

Crescent ridership rises in 2010

According to Amtrak, ridership on the Crescent, the line that come through Toccoa twice a day, rose by 4.2 percent from Fiscal Year 2009 to Fiscal Year 2010. In that time period, 298,688 people rode the Crescent, compared to 286,576 people in the 12 months prior. Meanwhile, revenue in Fiscal Year 2010 was just over $28.7 million. That is up 8.3 percent from Fiscal Year 2009.

Hayestone-Brady Business Park Nears Completion

Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said the work that began at the Highway 17 business park in June will soon wrap up on time and on budget. Based on weather, Martin says completion can be expected either late this month or early in January. The work was paid for with SPLOST money.

Butterworth to be appointed to the Committee on Assignments

Following last month's election, Republican senators voted to create a new set-up in the State Senate for determining committee assignments and leadership posts, taking that power away from the Lieutenant Governor and creating a Committee on Assignments to handle it. 50th District State Senator Jim Butterworth has confirmed he will be appointed to that committee. He called it an honor to receive the appointment!

Stephens County Hospital

Stephens County Hospital is purchasing a new microscope. The Hospital Authority approved the purchase during Monday's meeting. Stephens County Hospital Administrator Ed Gambrell says the microscope is for Dr. Jack Harris. Gambrell said Dr. Harris needs a new microscope for his cataract surgeries. The Hospital Authority approved the purchase unanimously.



The Board of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development announces Stephens County graduates from the 2010 Region Two Multi-Day Training Program. Class participants represented a number of professional and non-professional economic development fields, including elected officials, public servants, business leaders, educators, and social service providers from thirteen counties in North Georgia. The Academy provided each of the graduates an opportunity to gain a unique understanding of the complexities of economic and community development on the local, regional, and state levels.

Stephens County graduates at the November 10th ceremony included: Dean Scarborough, Stephens County Board of Commissioners, Kayla Carpenter, Stephens County Development Authority, Jay Johnson, former Toccoa City Manager, and Greg Roach, North Georgia Technical College (pictured with Rope Roberts, Georgia Power Company, Mike Grundmann, Quickstart, and Niki Knox, Georgia EMC)

Created in 1993 by then-Governor Zell Miller’s Development Council, the Academy assembles a cross section of economic development professionals and resources to provide this training in all twelve service delivery regions in Georgia. The Board of Directors of the Academy consists of 22 members representing public and private economic development organizations and agencies from across Georgia. Since its organization, the Academy has provided training for thousands of professional and non-professional economic developers around the state, and since 1998 the Academy has been offered annually.

“One of the goals for the multi-day regional Academies is to encourage multi-county cooperation,” says Saralyn Stafford, Executive Director of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. “Many times the participants discover the issues facing their community are the same as those facing other communities in their region, and can then combine limited resources to address the issue.”

Georgia EMC and Georgia Power provide facilitators for the program, and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs provides staff support to this important program

The Academy’s multi-day program, taught one day a month over a four-month period, includes training in the basics of economic and community development, plus specialized segments on business recruitment and retention, tourism product development, downtown development, quality planning, redevelopment and other essentials for community success. In addition, the curriculum features specific leadership skills such as consensus building, ethics in public service, collaborative leadership and other segments needed for effective community leadership in economic development. Local elected officials receive certification training credits through the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association for completion of this program, and the program is certified for 3.25 CEUs through the UGA Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

The next Region Two Georgia Academy for Economic Development will begin in August 2011. For more information on this, please contact Kathy Papa at 770-965-8561 or by email at

Five Georgia schools receive Energy Star rating

Five Georgia schools have been awarded the Energy Star by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Big A Elementary School, Estanollee Elementary School, Toccoa Elementary School, Liberty Elementary School and Stephens County Middle School all in Stephens County School System, were awarded the distinction by using an average of 35 percent less energy than the typical school building and releasing 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

According to the EPA, Stephens County School System reduced its energy use by monitoring the temperatures in its buildings, making sure lights were turned off in unoccupied areas of the buildings, working with custodians and staff on implementing energy reducing ideas throughout the day and night and making sure thermostats cut off and on at the correct time.

The EPA introduced the Energy Star rating as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.

“(Our principals are) pleased to accept EPA’s Energy Star in recognition f or energy-efficiency efforts,” said Sherrie Whiten, superintendent of Stephens County School System. “Through this achievement, we have demonstrated our commitment to environmental stewardship while also lowering our energy costs.”

By Liz Carey
Independent Mail

Toccoa is GA's Best of Living History

Toccoa was selected as the Official Best Living History of Georgia. The Official Best Of is a travel website that selects the best tourist sites states have to offer.

Toccoa will be in the Official Best Of Georgia's television special, airing on WSBTV Channel 2/ABC on December 11 and on the Travel Channel on November 17 at 8 am.

The special highlights Toccoa's cultural and tourist attractions and is sponsored by Main Street Toccoa and Stephens county Historical Society.

Main Street Toccoa

Downtown Scarecrow Contest Results

Main Street Toccoa would like to thank all of the businesses that participated in the First Annual Downtown Scarecrow Contest. We were impressed by the effort and creativity that all businesses put into the creation of their scarecrow(s). This was a wonderful way to show seasonal fun in Toccoa and to show off our great downtown.

Following judging this weekend, our judges have selected Jack Green, CPA as the winner of the Downtown Scarecrow Contest. Congratulations to Jay and the staff! Their scarecrow was decorated as Mr. Jack O’Lantern, a distressed CPA, complete with glasses and suspenders. The judges were impressed with the scarecrow’s representation of the CPA business, its emotion and use of hay and pumpkin head. The combination of originality, traditional scarecrow-making technique, and creativity in expressing the financial business created the first Downtown Scarecrow Contest’s winner.

In addition to the top prize, the judges also chose two honorable mentions for this year’s Downtown Scarecrow Contest: Stephens County Development Authority (SCDA) and Ionosphere Travel Agency. Both scarecrow displays were judged highly for their creativity in reflecting their business’ purpose. Stephens County Development Authority’s display included five scarecrows, all representatives of members of the SCDA, and a pumpkin carved to include their logo. This honorable mention was awarded due to the display’s attention to detail and creativity. Additionally, Ionosphere’s scarecrow "Trip" was lounging in a beach chair, sunbathing in a Hawaiian print shirt and flip-flops. All the necessities of a beach trip were included in the display, as Trip had suntan lotion, a boom box, sunglasses and a camera. The judges awarded Ionosphere an honorable mention for its coordination with their business mission and its ability to transport you to another place.

Thank you to everyone for your commitment and support of this downtown contest. We look forward to making this an annual event and are very pleased with the participation this year! As this was our first year, if you have any feedback we would love to hear your comments. We will be revamping the competition process over the next few weeks, so be on the lookout for next year's contest rules and dates in the coming weeks.

Toccoa: "best living history in GA"

The City of Toccoa and the Stephens County Historical Society have announced that the Official Best of Travel website has selected Toccoa as having "the best living history of Georgia." As a result, the city and the historic downtown will be featured on a television special set to air next month on the Travel Channel. Officials with both the city and the Historical Society said they are excited about the honor.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle visits Toccoa

Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle stopped at the Toccoa Clinic Foothill Centre to hold a meeting with local officials Wednesday. He entertained questions and comments from the audience. The Lt. Governor was introduced by Senator Jim Butterworth.

Stop by to check out SCDA's window decoration for the Downtown Scarecrow Contest!

NGTC Switching To Semesters

Preparations continue at North Georgia Technical College for the switch from quarters to semesters.Starting in August 2011, the Technical College System of Georgia, which includes North Georgia Tech, will convert from an academic calendar based on quarters to one based on semesters. Moving from quarters to semesters will align the technical college academic calendar with the K-12 school system. Other benefits the semester schedule offers, according to North Georgia Tech, include additional instruction time and more in-depth coverage of course content.The school stated that class sizes are not expected to increase on the semester system, nor will a student’s grade point average be affected.
Read article:WNEG News

SCDA Welcomes Back Tim Ash to Board

Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin welcomes Tim Ash back to the Stephens County Development Authority Board of Directors.

“Tim will be a valuable addition to our team as we continue our efforts to promote Toccoa and Stephens County as an ideal site for business and industry,” said Martin.

Stephens County Commissioners appointed Ash onto the Development Authority Board Tuesday.

Ash replaces Jennifer Blasingame, who resigned last month as she awaits the birth of her second child. He will also fill Blasingame’s position as treasurer on the Development Authority Board.


Job Fair

The Georgia Department of Labor will host a job fair in Stephens County today. Today's job fair will run from 12 to 3 p.m. at North Georgia Tech's Currahee Campus, which is located on Highway 17 between Toccoa and Martin. It is sponsored by the Toccoa Career Center of the Georgia Department of Labor, the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce, and North Georgia Tech.

G-M Wood Products makes Toccoa expansion official

Charlie Bauder/WNEG AM-630/Special to Independent Mail
Michigan-based wood manufacturer G-M Wood Products will expand to Stephens County.

The Stephens County Development Authority has offered the company a lease agreement for the 52,500-square-foot Telford Building in the Meadowbrook Industrial Park.

Founded in 1987, G-M Wood Products makes exterior door components.

Company chief executive officer Mark Micho said the Stephens County facility will be similar to the company’s current one in Newaygo, Mich.

“We will have a priming line, and we will have and other operations,” Micho said. “We manufacture exterior door components. Those operations, along with many others that are integral for what we manufacture in Newaygo, will be in Toccoa.”

Micho said the company looked at sites throughout the region.

In the end, he said, Toccoa makes the most sense.

“What really made the most sense was the people we met when we came,” Micho said. “Our visit was very positive. Tim (Martin) did a wonderful job getting us information. It was a very relaxed atmosphere when we were there. The man overseeing the Toccoa operation and I both, after the visit, said Toccoa is where we want to be.”

The Telford Building, Micho said, is ideal for G-M Wood production process. The company is expected occupy the building Nov. 1 and start production Dec. 1. The company plans to employ 12 people initially.

Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said the new agreement is more great news for the county.

“It is fitting that a company with such a proven record of success and growth in the woodworking industry would select a community with a proud history of woodworking,” Martin said. “G-M Wood Products and Toccoa-Stephens County are a perfect fit for each other.”

Stephens County Development Authority Chairman Cam Parker said the agency looks forward to helping the company enjoy success and growth in Stephens County.

Stephens County Commission Chairman Dean Scarborough said the news regarding G-M Wood is the result of the efforts of many people, just like the agreement made public last week that Crown Resources will locate in Stephens County.

“We are just so excited that G-M Wood Products has chosen Toccoa for its second location,” Scarborough said. “We know they will start off with a certain number of employees, but we look forward to them increasing as they become successful, and we are just excited about having them come to Toccoa and Stephens County.”

Toccoa Mayor Bob Troup said local officials looked at G-M Wood Products very closely as the recruitment process moved along and liked what they saw.

“They are a very stable company,” Troup said. “They are going to be great partners for Toccoa, and ultimately they will probably employ 60 to 70 people, and that is the progress that we need to make.”

State Sen. Jim Butterworth and state Rep. Michael Harden also are commending both sides for reaching an agreement. Butterworth said this is an exciting time for Toccoa and the region, while Harden said that as a company that prides itself on being the best, G-M Wood Products will be a great addition.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Heidi Green said the state is very pleased about this latest example of job creation in Georgia. The area work force will help G-M Wood Products thrive, she said, and play a significant part in growing the state’s economy.
Link to Article: G-M Wood Products Expansion

Advances made on economic front

There is good news – for a change – looming on the economic horizon for Toccoa-Stephens County.

The Stephens County Industrial Development Authority has been instrumental in securing commitments for two new industries to locate in our community.

The first is a Michigan-based wood components manufacturing company, as yet unidentified, that will locate in Meadowbrook Industrial Park in the Eastanollee area.

The company is expected to create 12 new jobs when it begins operations by November.

Also announced this week was the news that Crown Resources, a maker of drainage, filtration, asphalt overlay and erosion sedimentation control applications, will move its Greer, S.C., operations to the Rooker spec building in the Hayestone Brady Park.

The building is located adjacent to Highway 17 and bulldozers and other equipment could be seen working at the site the last two weeks.

Crown will bring with it 20 jobs.

That's a total of 32 new jobs for Toccoa-Stephens County, not a lot by high economic development standards – the 32 won't even replace the 100 or so jobs lost earlier this year when an industrial plant closed its Toccoa operations – but it is a start.

In these difficult economic times, when competition for new industry is beyond fierce, it should make the community feel better that some headway is being made in the creation of jobs for Toccoa-Stephens County.

To put it bluntly, 32 jobs is better than zero jobs created.

Also on a positive note on the economic development front, was the news last week that the development authority, because of less than expected contractual costs, will expand its work plan in the Hayestone-Brady industrial park.

The authority is utilizing proceeds from a special purpose local options sales tax (SPLOST) to build the park. That means infrastructure improvements such as roads, water, sewer, gas and electricity.

A recent visit to the park construction site showed considerable activity as roads are being cut and some sites leveled and prepared for potential new industrial prospects.

When completed, Hayestone-Brady will certainly be the centerpiece of Toccoa-Stephens County's industrial recruitment program.

With the completion of the park – and the much-awaited construction of a four-lane Highway 17 – Toccoa-Stephens County will take a back seat to no other community when it comes to showcasing building sites for potential industrial residents.

Our economy will not turn around from 10 percent unemployment to full employment overnight because of these two new industries and the ongoing construction of the new industrial park.

However, there is cause for optimism that with the advances of recent days we are headed to a much brighter future filled with jobs, an increased tax base and heftier payrolls supporting local consumer spending.

SCHS Graduation Rate Increase

The Stephens County School System has announced the official final graduation rate for this past school year. According to Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten, the rate is 83%! That rate is above the 80% requirement and is also an increase from the previous year.

Stephens County Hospital makes Honor Roll

Stephens County Hospital is once again on the Georgia Hospital Association's Partnership for Health and Accountability Quality Honor Roll. The Georgia Hospital association also announced Stephens County Hospital made the Chairman's category, the highest group on the list.

Toccoa-Stephens County Welcomes Crown Resources!

Crown Resources, a geotextiles manufacturer, is relocating their operations from Greer, S.C. to Toccoa-Stephens County. Their new home will be the building formerly known as the Rooker spec building in Hayestone Brady Business park. Rooker crews are readying the building for a Nov. 1, occupancy. Production is expected to start Feb. 1, 2011. After the first of the year Crown Resources will announce its hiring needs and process. At start-up, the company will employ 20 people. Crown Resources serves mainly the construction and road building industries.

Crown Resources provides premium quality, cost-efficient woven and nonwoven geotextiles. The company offers a broad range of geotextiles to satisfy the most complex engineering demands for drainage, filtration, asphalt overlay, separation, stabilization, erosion and sedimentation control applications.

“We’re excited about our move to Toccoa, Georgia. We’ve had this beautiful area on our radar for a couple of years and have enjoyed working with local officials on this project,” said Monte Thomas, Crown Resources’ CEO.

“Toccoa is centrally located with strong transportation connections and offers a superb workforce from which we can draw our employees,” Thomas said.

“The Rooker spec building located in what will be the premier industrial park in north Georgia — Hayestone Brady Business Park, is perfectly suited to our needs. We feel very fortunate to be able to secure it for our operations,” Thomas said.

“Crown Resources has chosen Stephens County and Toccoa for their expansion and we look forward to making them feel welcome,” county commission chairman Dean Scarborough said.

“The work in infrastructure development and the commitment of the Rooker Company to place a spec building at Hayestone has helped make this possible. Diligence by our Development Authority, its volunteers, and the citizens of Stephens County have helped make this a reality,” Scarborough said.

“Good luck Crown Resources. I know the people of this community will make you proud you chose this location,” he said.

“This announcement provides an exclamation point to our efforts to develop Hayestone Brady Business Park,: said Cam Parker, SDCA chairman. “Landing this great company just as we are seeing visible progress at the Park is exciting and will propel us to even more success at recruiting jobs and investments to our community.”

“We welcome Crown Resources to the community. We have been very impressed with this company’s track record of success. We believe it complements our existing manufacturing base and brings new technology and a strong future to our area,” Development Authority director Tim Martin said.

“Manufacturing has always been one of our strong suits,” said Toccoa Mayor Bob Troup.

“Monte Thomas and his team will provide another key component to our economic viability,” Troup said.

Industrial park work expanded

By Jessica Waters
The Toccoa Record

Following the receipt of lower-than-expected bids for site work at Hayestone Brady Industrial Park, the Stephens County Development Authority (SCDA) will proceed with additional road work, grading and site preparation earlier than expected.

According to SCDA executive director Tim Martin.

Approximately $7 million in SPLOST receipts have been earmarked for industrial development, said Martin.

“We pledged to ourselves that we would spend $5 million of that on Hayestone Brady,” said Martin, adding that collections from SPLOST is now expected to be closer to $6 million, as opposed to $7 million, but that the SCDA remains committed to the Hayestone Brady project.

Bids were submitted for grading of three lots, the addition of a lift station, a force main and two gravity mains as well as roadwork.

Those bids came back at approximately one half of the expected expenditure; said Martin and SCDA chairman Cam Parker.

Taking into account the savings on the planned work, Martin said they will expand the scope of the work to include paving the entire stretch of one road, grading out additional lots, running additional water and sewer lines and getting several additional plots pad-ready.

County courting industry

By Jessica Waters
The Toccoa Record

Meadowbrook Industrial Park may soon be home to a Michigan manufacturing company, according to Stephens County Development Authority executive director Tim Martin and SCDA board chairman Cam Parker.

“It’s two deals wrapped up in one,” explained Parker, saying that the Michigan-based company has signed a letter of intent to occupy the Telford Building – a 52,500-square-foot metal building on Meadowbrook Industrial Road in Eastanollee.

Martin and Parker declined to identify the company, but explained the two-step process agreed upon during negotiations.

“The development authority will purchase the Telford Building for $700,000, and the owner will loan (the Development Authority) back $500,000 and pocket $200,000,” Parker said, adding that the $500,000 loan would be paid back at a 3 percent interest rate with a balloon payment due after three years.

“In a separate deal with the Michigan company, they will lease the building for $6,000 per month for three years, with a purchase option for $603,000 at the end of the three years.”

The plant manager of the company, which makes wooden components for doors and other products, is currently in town searching for housing, Martin said, adding that research into the company shows it to be in good financial standing.

“They have been very upfront – they are saying they will be adding 12 jobs,” Martin said, adding that the number of employees could increase over time.

Parker added that all individuals involved in the transaction are aware of all aspects of the arrangement, and that, during these economic times when other communities are providing large benefits to companies in order to compete for new businesses, some risks must be taken in order to attract new industry.

If the deal is finalized the new company could be up and running by November, Martin said.

Jennifer Blasingame Resigns

Stephens County Development Authority Treasurer and long-time board member, Jennifer Blasingame, has announced her retirement from the board according to SCDA Board Chairman, Cam Parker.

Blasingame, who is expecting the birth of a child in October, served six years on the board following her appointment by the Stephens County commissioners.
"She has had a strategic vision for where we wanted to go, and she has been an outstanding steward of those (taxpayer) dollars," said Parker. "We are where we are today in a large part because of her dedication," he added.

County commissioners will appoint a new member to the board during an upcoming commission meeting.

Combat Training Solutions receives military contract

The receipt of a government contract by Combat Training Solutions – a Colorado-based company which operates a research and development and production facility in Eastanollee – could mean additional jobs for Stephens County, said CTS president and CEO Tony Colon.

After a lengthy four-year contract competition, Combat Training Solutions, on Friday, was awarded a CARTS contract. CARTS stands for Common Army Ranges and Target Systems.

A number of companies will work to fill the $4 billion, five-year contract, with $390 million of that set aside for small businesses such as Combat Training Solutions, Colon explained.

“That is $390 million we can go after without competing against large businesses,” he said, explaining that CTS is a Hub Zone certified company.
HUB Zone certification is a Small Business Administration initiative to promote job growth, capital investment, and economic development to historically underutilized business zones by providing contracting assistance to small businesses located in these economically distressed communities.

“This (contract) will allow us to research and development and use government funds for that,” Colon said, explaining that the contract would allow for prototype building and rapid prototyping that would allow the company to hire additional machinists, welders, design engineers and support staff as well as assemblers to help produce the products once developed.

Read Full article: Toccoa Record: Top Stories

The Toccoa Record: 09-09-10

Work Ready Connect

Thursday, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced the launch of Work Ready Connect, the state's new online employment marketplace. The website brings together Work Ready certified people and employers to ensure the right person is placed in the right job to drive success.
Visit website: Work Ready Connect

NGTC Celebrates 5 years

The Toccoa Record
It’s hard for many to believe that only five years ago North Georgia Technical College opened the doors to a brand new, state-of-the-art branch campus in Stephens County.

Known as the Currahee Campus, the 46,000-square-foot facility is located on a 50-acre site in the Hayestone-Brady Industrial Park on Highway 17 between Toccoa and Lavonia.

With Sammy Howe as director and a skeleton crew of only 8 faculty and staff members, classes began on the new campus on July 7, 2005.

Initially, 101 students enrolled in classes at the new facility during that first summer quarter.

Now, five years later, enrollment numbers have soared to almost 500 students attending classes on the Currahee Campus.

“It is a great opportunity to bring post-secondary education and adult education to the people of Stephens and Franklin Counties,” Howe said at the opening.

“This location will provide an opportunity for people to look at new career options closer to home. Companies who are interested in moving to the area will have a place to look at for an educational facility to meet their training needs,” Howe said.

Recently the NGTC Foundation received a donation from the First Citizens Foundation to complete preliminary plans for a proposed addition to the campus. The new expansion will include a health wing which will provide even greater opportunities for the citizens of Stephens, Franklin and other surrounding counties.

In addition to educational facilities, the new Currahee facility also provided the community with access to a conference area open to the public for meetings, social gatherings and even weddings.

“We welcome you to come and visit us soon,” said campus director Greg Roach. “You can visit our library, enjoy the Thursday buffet, or schedule a wedding reception. And when you’re ready to move forward in your career by getting a better education, we’re here to help.”

For more information: NGTC
or Call: 706-779-8100.

Read the article:NGTC celebrate 5 years

Pioneer Day set at Traveler's Rest

Traveler's Rest State Historic Sit and the Friends of Traveler's Rest will host its Pioneer Days special event on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Many of the talents and skills of the early 18oo's pioneers are brought back to life. Special demonstrations will be on hand for spinning, weaving, blacksmithing, black powder shooting, hearth cooking, and doll making.
Visitors will also enjoy live peroid music and dancing. Admission is $4 for adults, $3.50 for senior citizens, $2.50 for youths, and small children are free.
Tours of the 1815 stagecoach inn and plantation home will be available as usual. Traveler's Rest is located five miles eat of Toccoa on Hwy 123.

For more information visit: GA State Parks
or Call Tugaloo State Park: 706-356-4362

TFC Receives High Ranking

Toccoa Falls College recently earned the 46th (first tier) spot among regional colleges in the 2011 edition of Best Colleges by U.S. News Media Group. This exclusive ranking came after surveying more than 1,400 schools nationwide. The college's name will be listed in the September issue of U.S. News & World Report, on newsstands as of August 31.
Over the past two decades, U.S. News college ranking, which group schools based categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, has grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities. After learning the news, Toccoa Falls College president Dr. Wayne Gardner said, "It is very exciting to have Toccoa Falls College ranked in the first tier. This ranking shows the excellent progress we have made over the past few years in our academic growth and public recognition."
Toccoa Falls College is considered one of the top Christian colleges in the nation.
For more information about Toccoa Falls College, visit or call 1-888-785-5624.

Hemphill & Son Trucking Spotlight

This week in the Toccoa Record SCDA is spotlighting Hemphill & Son Trucking!

Hemphill & Son Trucking, Inc located on 2004 Clary Connector in Eastanollee.

They are a privately-owned trucking company moving full truck loads to and from the Toccoa area. The current facility was built in 1995. The company has operated in Toccoa since 1984. Hemphill employs some 16 to 20 drivers from the area, depending on their business volumes.

They use their garage for maintenance on their tractors and trailers. They strive to provide a quality means of shipping for area companies. Hemphill is a valued business in the Toccoa area and provides local companies with quality shipping options, according to the Stephens County Development Authority.

Patterson Pump Spotlighted

This week in the Toccoa Record SCDA is spotlighting Patterson Pump!

Patterson Pump is located on some 32 acres at 2129 Ayersville Road in Toccoa. They are a subsidiary of Gorman Rupp with headquarters located in Mansfield, OH. Their employees manufacture pumps and pumping equipment. Patterson Pump specializes in a wide variety of usages including industries, municipals, sewage, irrigation, fire protection, agriculture, and OEM markets. They have a wide variety of customers with many of them being exported to the far eastern countries.

Patterson PUmp continues to be a leading producer of quality pumps. They currently employ some 350 workers, making it the largest private employer in Stephens County. Patterson and their employees support many local organizations in the county and participate in various charity events throughout the year.

SCDA continues to work hard to support a good working relationship with existing businesses and search for growth opportunities for Toccoa/Stephens County.

Stephens County has joined with three neighboring counties to apply for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of grant money designed for workforce development. Along with community partners in Habersham, Franklin, and Hart counties, the Stephens County Development Authority applied for a total of $358,000 in grant funds.

Improvements continue at Hayestone-Brady Business Park

Work continues on improvements to Hayestone-Brady Business Park, current home to Caterpillar and North Georgia Technical College, in Stephens County.

A couple of months into the work, Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said they are pleased with the progress they are seeing. “We are about 55 to 56 percent complete on the water and wastewater installation and better than 50 percent complete on the road construction,” said Martin. “Doing those two things allows us grade some sites, so it allows us to work on that as well.”

The project consists of building a road that will pass through the park and connect the current Georgia Highway 17 to the future, four-lane Highway 17 as it is designed now, adding in water and sewer, and doing some site work to ready the park for business. It is expected to be complete by the end of the calendar year.

“Within the last 30 days, we have had some visitors in town and on each occasion, we have driven by the site and let them see that work is being done,” he said. “That is obviously better than just a promise we will do something. When you see work being done, it is better than a promise.”
Read article: WNEG News

Currahee Composite Squadron 1st Anniversary

The unit charter, SER-GA 506, was issued by National Headquarters on July 24, thereby officially recognizing the Currahee Composite Squadron as a unique community resource for Northeast Georgia. Lt. Col. David D. Roberts Sr. was appointed as the first Commander as of that date.

A marketing campaign was implemented utilizing local media sources, the Toccoa Record, WNEG Radio, and Northland Cable, each played a major role by informing the public about the CAP. By January of 2010, the membership had grown beyond the capacity of the meeting location. Throughout this six-month period, the squadron members had contributed up to 1,000-man hours of community service and responded to the flood disaster of 2009.

Currently 40 members strong, 14 of which are Officers, the unit meets on Doyle Street in downtown Toccoa at the First Franklin Financial Training Center. The members want to express a very special thank you, to Second Lt. Johnny Coxx and the Leadership of First Franklin, for allowing the unit to temporarily meet there. The Currahee Composite Squadron is in search of a permanent home that will meet the needs of a growing community organization.
-- Anderson Independent

Triple Crown Watercross: August 13-15

Thousands of personal water craft and boating enthusiasts are expected to attend this weekend's Triple Crown Water Cross on Lake Hartwell. Sponsored by the Lake Hartwell Marketing Alliance, spokesman Larry Torrence says they've already had a lot of interest in the event. This national tour event combines the electricity and appeal of traditional beach events with the thrills of competitive motor sports. Featuring the highly explosive and exciting sport of watercraft racing, all the top USA riders and race teams will be there! The events will take place at the Big Oaks Recreation Area in Hartwell, GA and the action is free for spectators!

Weekend of August 6-7!

Join us for a busy weekend in Toccoa!
The final "Cinema on Sage" event for the summer will take place this evening. Tonight's movie is "The Blind Side". The movie will start at 9PM on Sage Street, with activities starting at 7PM. Meanwhile, the "Back to School Bash" will take place from 10AM to 4PM on Saturday on Doyle Street from Sage to Alexander Streets in Downtown Toccoa.

Southeast Bioenergy Conference in Tifton, Georgia August 3-5!

The Southeast Bioenergy Conference will be held August 3-5 and will bring you the information and technology essential to "Building a Vibrant Renewable Energy Market for the Southeast." Global and local renewable energy experts and businesses will share with you what is happening now, what is possible and what is promising for the Southeast. The information you hear will help you advance your business agenda and prepare you to take advantage of opportunities coming down the pike. SEBC is valued for creating interactive dialogue between its 500-600 attendees who are actively involved in bioenergy businesses ranging from biofuels to power generation to energy efficiency. You can count on meeting with attendees from executive branches of government involved with developing bioenergy business; state and federal legislators; companies that are producing or have plans to produce; industry vendors; banks and investors; and educators ranging from high school programs to college professors.

All existing industry leaders are invited to attend!
For more information: Southeast Bioenergy Conference

WNEG - Old Chamber Building Coming Down To Make Way for Passive Park

Local officials are in the process of finding a new use for an old property.
The city of Toccoa, Stephens County, Development Authority, and Chamber of Commerce are working together to turn the property that has housed the old Chamber building into a passive green space.
The property is at the corner of Currahee Street and Big A Road in Toccoa. Recently, crews have demolished the old Chamber building to make way for the passive park.
For months, local and state officials have negotiated the sale of the state-owned property to the local community. That sale was going through and was expected to be completed in the Fall.
However, Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin said more recent developments pushed the timeline on the demolition of the building itself forward.
“In the meanwhile, the county realized that the landfill is full and it could not accept any more construction and demolition waste, so we told the state the plan had to be accelerated,” said Martin. “They gave us permission to get onto the site even though we do not own it yet, to take the building down and dispose of it properly.”
The sale of the property is still expected to go through in the Fall, and the state is receiving around $33,000 for the property.
According to Martin, the next step is to assemble a team to create a design for exactly what the space will look like.

Stephens County awarded grant for efforts improve high school graduation rate

Charlie Bauder/WNEG AM-630/Special to Independent Mail
The Stephens County School System has been awarded grant money that will be used to improve the high school graduation rate.

At a Stephens County Board of Education work session Thursday, Superintendent Sherrie Whiten said the school system has received a federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.

The grant money will be used in the county for the Students Urgent Reach to Graduate and Excel (SURGE) program.

Whiten said the program focuses on a number of areas.

“The focus is on math and reading literacy, personal growth, parent involvement, and targeting economically disadvantaged students,” she said. “The overall goal is to affect the graduation rate, especially (among) the economically disadvantaged students.”

Click here to read the article: Stephens County awarded grant

Goodwill emphasizes training, placement

(The following is the second installment of a series highlighting industries in Toccoa-Stephens County)
North Georgia Headquarters for Goodwill is located on 1044 Clary Connector in Eastanollee. They fall under the world-wide Goodwill umbrella. Goodwill has 2 other North Georgia locations, one in Athens and Gainesville. They employ some 11-15 employees with full and part time jobs. They focus on training those with various disabilities. Emphasis is on training their students and enabling them to move into the mainstream work place. Several companies in this area support and depend on Goodwill but many more participants are needed to help with placement of their students.

Goodwill of North Georgia is a non-profit operation with a large portion of their thrift store sales used to support their training centers. Goodwill of North Georgia was ranked 43rd overall and 10th among those with more than 250 employees as one of the Best Places to Work by the Non-Profit Times.

Most people only know about the Goodwill retail stores but few know how the money is used to help those with disabilities.

The Toccoa Record

Stephens target blight

Stephens County Commissioners last week adopted a resolution establishing industrial redevelopment areas for the county. The resolution declares the existence in Stephens County of areas in which the deteriorated structures "endanger life and property" and can lead to ill health, transmission of disease, infant mortality, high unemployment, juvenile delinquency and crime.

The blighted areas can be detrimental to the public "health, safety, morals, and welfare," according to the resolution.

The resolution, through the designation of the urban redevelopment area, "allows the Stephens County Board of Commissioners to request the preparation of a workable urban redevelopment plan in accordance with Official Code of address the presence of factors within the area."

Tim Martin, SCDA director, identified the former WABCO property on Highway 123 North, Milliken-Humphrey site on Highway 123 South, and four or more sites within the Meadowbrook Industrial Park as areas designated for the project.

"This is the first step in a process that will result in the opportunity zone designation," Martin said. "First steps are vital, you don't move forward without those first steps."

The Toccoa Record -- Jessica Waters
Click here to read the article: Stephens targets blight

Georgia Trend:Toccoa/Stephens County: Working Together

Toccoa/Stephens County featured in Georgia Trend Magazine.

A couple of years ago, when Toccoa-Stephens County sent a delegation to Washington D.C., they asked to meet with U.S. Representative Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. The congressman listened to their concerns, then he asked about the Tugaloo River. He told them he had never forgotten the canoe trip he had taken at the invitation of community leaders 20 years ago when he was a member of the Georgia legislature.

“You don’t know what’s going to impress someone,” says Tim Martin, executive director of the Toccoa-Stephens County Development Authority. “But if the community’s citizens have bought into who you are and what you’re trying to show, then prospects are going to feel welcome. And people always remember an experience.”

When prospects come to Stephens County, they are shown around by any number of community leaders who have gone through the development authority’s “Chauffer Academy.” These tour guides have learned to point out the area’s attributes and distinctions, whether it’s a visit to a school, a manufacturer or a stop at one of Stephens’s unique homegrown restaurants.

The Chauffer Academy is just one of the ways people are involved with the development authority. More than 40 people serve on six committees within the authority, tasked with some 100 responsibilities along the lines of recruitment and attraction of new industry, retention and expansion of existing businesses, development of the work force, infrastructure and the “product” the county has to offer.

In the last couple of slow years, Toccoa-Stephens County has worked on enhancing its product. The county’s third industrial park, 420-acre Hayestone-Brady Business Park, will have roads, sewer and water extended to it by late summer this year. Fiber-optic telecommunications and natural gas are available, and the county has an abundant supply of water. Power is provided by both Georgia Power and Hart EMC. Rail is planned, and an 80,000-square-foot spec building is ready for a new owner. Additional sites are being graded, and plans are ready for the next building to be constructed.

Click here to read the article: Toccoa/Stephens County: Working Together

Dewtex experiences rapid growth

(NOTE: The following is the first in a series of pieces highlighting industries in Toccoa-Stephens County.)

The Stephens County Development Authority (SCDA) is assisting existing industries by creating an atmosphere for development within the community. Dewtex Inc. is a developer and manufacturer of a broad range of industrial reinforcement laid scrim solutions providing extremely flexible reinforcement systems.
Dewtex Inc. was established in July 2004 in Toccoa to serve Dewtex's North America market. This company is a subsidiary of the European technical fabrics market leader James Dewhurst. The company has experienced market penetration and rapid growth by expansion of 200 million yards in the five ears it has been active.
The Toccoa plant is located on Clary Connector. Its headquarters are located in the united Kingdom. The plant is owned by the company IRB via the SCDA. The plant started with 38 jobs, it currently has 80 employees.

'The Record' wins 7 GPA Awards

The Toccoa Record won seven awards in the Georgia Press Association (GPA) Better Newspaper Contest including one of three given for general excellence. The Toccoa Record won first place for best sports section and third place in general excellence. The winner in the general excellence category is determined by the number of points totaled in first through third places in the 25 individual categories that make up the contest. The prestigious J.W. Williams Trophy for first place in best editorial page was given to The Record. They won second place in the Page One category which judges the newsworthiness of the publication's front page; along with second place in the layout and design category which deals with the overall design and attractiveness of the newspaper.

Two Record staffers were honored for individual work. Jessica Water's photograph of a Stephens County High School tennis player won third place for best sports photo and publisher Tom Law's column about being marooned on the roof of his house took second place honors for best humorous column.

Stephens County Hospital is recognized by the Georgia Hospital Association

WNEG 630 announced that Stephens County Hospital has been named to the Georgia Hospital Association's Partnership for Health and Accountability Quality Honor Roll. Stephens County is one of just 16 hospitals to be acknowledged in the Chairman's category, the highest on the list.

The honor roll is based on clinical data provided by the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. The data was collected from January 2009-December 2009 and demonstrates how well a hospital’s caregivers adhere to the clinical processes of care to patients who have suffered heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia.

Georgia Hospital Association President Joseph Parker said this is a great accomplishment for Stephens County Hospital.

Groundbreaking for Hayestone Brady

The Stephens County Development Authority broke ground Tuesday June 8 for improvements to the Hayestone-Brady Business Park. The Hayestone-Brady Business Park is on Highway 17, between Toccoa and Martin, and currently is home to Caterpillar and the Currahee campus of North Georgia Technical College.

The project consists of building a road that will pass through the park and connect the current Georgia Highway 17 to the future route of four-lane Highway 17. The project will consist of some site work and the implantation of water and sewer facilities to ready the park for business.

Several city and county leaders were on hand to celebrate the occasion. Officials from local industries were present, as were state Sen. Jim Butterworth and state Rep. Michael Harden.

The Development Authority is receiving $7 million through SPLOST V (special purpose local option sales tax), approved by voters, to complete the infrastructure improvements that will make Hayestone-Brady ready for development.

Work has already begun on the project and is expected to be completed by late fall.

Click here for more photos from the ceremony: Groundbreaking photos

Click here to view video clips from the ceremony: Groundbreaking Videos

Georgia's 'Work Ready' program preserved for the future

Governor Sonny Perdue recently signed House Bill 1195, which ensures the Georgia Work Ready program's continuance after his final term. "Work Ready is transforming our state’s workforce and closing the skills gap for many Georgia workers. Most importantly, almost 6,000 Georgians have found a job using their Work Ready Certificate since March 2009," said Perdue. Read full article...

45 of 159 counties are in Georgia are now Work Ready certified. Stephens County was one of the first 22 counties to gain certification and is now in the process of re-certification. The County was the recipient of a grant to aid the re-certification process and promote the program within the community. The grant money has so far been used to support the high school mentoring program and to support the Stephens County High School senior class' taking of the work ready exam this past winter.

The re-certification process requires a continued increase in the numbers of Work Ready certified residents in Toccoa and Stephens County. A specified number of businesses in the area must also 'sign on' to recognize the program as part of their hiring process. 1,352 residents in Stephens County are now Work Ready certified. Click here to read more about Work Ready in Stephens County...

Gate Cottage is reopened with ceremony

Toccoa Falls College's Gate Cottage is now reopened, after the historic building burned a year ago! The College celebated the reopening on Thursday with a Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new facility includes a large kitchen and is available for community events, weddings, receptions, and meetings.

The SCDA is excited to hold our June 3 Developer Day event with statewide project managers at Gate Cottage!

Announcing . . . Toccoa Stephens County's "Top 4"!

In this week's Toccoa Record, the Stephens County Development Authority announced our 4 new target industries for recruitment! This is the result of a recommendation made to the SCDA Board this past Tuesday by the New Attraction & Recruitment Committee, led by Geleta Hunt.

The four industries chosen are plastics, automotive, furniture & fabricated metal, and food & beverage processing.

What's the argument behind the decision? Here are a few of the reasons why the Committee chose the 4 industry sectors:

• The community's location on the I-85 corridor and proximity to domestic and international markets via Atlanta and Greenville/Spartanburg airports and Savannah, Brunswick, and Charleston seaports.

• Three fully-served industrial parks with available sites.

• A great inventory of available, existing industrial buildings including factories and warehouses.

• A superb workforce evidenced by the earned designation of Georgia Work Ready Certified Community. Furthermore, our workforce skills match those needed by the four industry targets.

• Tomorrow’s work force is being readied today by programs in our public schools and colleges and our acclaimed QuickStart program. (Eight colleges are located in close proximity.)

• Toccoa-Stephens County wage rates are competitive.

• The unionization rate in Toccoa-Stephens County is well below the Georgia or U.S. average.

• Georgia is an employment-at-will and right-to work state.

• Toccoa-Stephens County offers tax incentives and financing options for qualifying manufacturers.

• Toccoa-Stephens County is at low risk for natural disasters.

• The abundant water supply in Toccoa-Stephens County can support a variety of industry.

• Toccoa-Stephens County is a family friendly community.

• Toccoa-Stephens County has a first-rate medical community with specialized care comparable to metropolitan areas.

Now the Committee is working to identify specific companies within these 4 industry sectors which could locate in Toccoa and Stephens County.

Link to article: SCDA Targets 4 industry types

Expanded vascular laboratory at Toccoa Clinic

The Toccoa Clinic has recently expanded their vascular lab, which aids in diagnosing and treating heart disease and stroke. The latest technology in the vascular lab means better service for Toccoa-Stephens County residents and those in surrounding areas who depend on the Clinic's health care services. The lab offers radiation-free ultrasound screenings.

Source: Anderson Independent Mail, 5/7/10

North Georgia Technical College enrollment increases again

North Georgia Technical College is expected to nearly double its enrollment in just two years!

School officials announced that enrollment is up again this Spring Quarter at a rate over 20% higher than Spring 2009. Enrollment at all of NGTC's campuses now totals 2,647.

Bids awarded for Hayestone Brady Road and Sewer Projects!

Progress is being made on Hayestone Brady Business Park development. The bids were awarded at the end of April for the Hammerstone Road project and the sewer and water project. The water and sewer project was awarded to Cedar Farms & Construction; the road project was awarded to Simpson Trucking & Grading.

The Stephens County Development Authority hopes to announce a groundbreaking ceremony soon to celebrate Toccoa's newest industrial park!

Stephens County Developer Day

Thursday, April 1 was the Stephens County Development Authority's first Toccoa-Stephens County Developer Day of 2010, following a string of 6 Developer Day events in the fall and spring of 2009. Six economic development project managers from five different agencies attended the event, which took them on a development-focused tour of the county:

Drew Addison, Industrial Properties Group
John Clancy, City Commercial
Bill Dobbs, Georgia Dept. of Economic Development
Stephanie Harmon, Georgia Mountains Regional Commission
Charles Hunsaker, Georgia Dept. of Economic Development
Brooke Lucas, Georgia EMC

Geleta Hunt of McClure, Ramsay, Dickerson, Escoe LLP and Mark Ivester of North Georgia Technical College served as 'chauffeurs' for the day. 19 locals joined the group for lunch at the Straw House (Willard Kimsey Environmental Education Center). Sage Automotive Interiors' plant Manager Tim Batson and HR Manager Ruth Burdette gave the developers a tour of their facility. They also viewed available industrial buildings, Hayestone Brady Business Park, and sights such as Toccoa Falls, Paul Anderson Park, Currahee Club, and North Broad Trestle.

Drew Addison of IPG stated, "Unified governmental leadership, existing industry, and available facilities are all important factors in locating a company, and Stephens County has all three. As companies look at communities around Northeast Georgia, Toccoa-Stephens County will continue to stand out."

The next Developer Day event will be held on Thursday, May 13.

Pictured: Geleta Hunt, Stephanie Harmon, Charles Hunsaker, Ruth Burdette, Drew Addison, Mark Ivester, Bill Dobbs, Brooke Lucas, and Tim Batson.

Dick's Hill Parkway is reopened

Yesterday, local and state officials celebrated the reopening of Dick's Hill Parkway with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The majority of the road, including the truck route for Patterson Pump Company, was inaccessible for almost 7 months following major flood damage in September. The project to repair the road was covered 100% by federal funds.

New Hiring Incentives for small and medium companies in the "Hire Work Ready" Program

Stephens County Business can now take advantage of the new "Hire Work Ready" Program.

Businesses with 50 employees or less can now apply to participate in Georgia’s new “Hire Work Ready” program to gain eligibility to receive $250 per certified Work Ready individual hired. Utilizing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) support, the program is designed to provide funding to small businesses that hire Work Ready Certified people to assist with costs associated with the hiring and training of new workers. Approved business owners will be provided with information on using Georgia Work Ready in their hiring process and be given access to an exclusive database of Work Ready Certified job seekers.

Small businesses will be eligible for $250 per certified Work Ready individual hired up to $1,250. The Governor’s Office of Workforce Development estimates that Hire Work Ready will encourage the hiring of 1,000 Work Ready Certified workers by as many as 400 firms.

Below are links to the online application and a fact sheet about the program. The Governor’s Office of Workforce Development will approve participation on a first-come, first-served basis. You can fill out the short online application today to begin the process of joining the program!

Hire Work Ready application form:

Hire Work Ready fact sheet:

Your application will be evaluated by the Governor's Office of Workforce Development and, once approved, you will be invited to participate in a Hire Work Ready information session conference call. After completing this mandatory session, you can begin implementing Hire Work Ready in your company.

For questions regarding Hire Work Ready, please call 1-877-WRC-HIRE or e-mail

Development Authority renting new office space

The SCDA has recently moved to a new location in Downtown Toccoa, at 31 West Doyle Street. The new office will allow the SCDA to serve better the community and interested prospects, as it is a more strategic location, and close to partner agencies such as the Chamber of Commerce as well as government entities.

Please come visit us.

SCHS seniors achieve Work Ready status

171 seniors at Stephens County High school (86 percent of the graduating class) were recently certified as “Work Ready”. Out of 171 students, 35 were awarded gold or platinum certificates, 91 received silver certificates and 45 received bronze certificates. This assessment came as the result of close collaboration between the SCHS and the Georgia Work Ready Community Team, led by Gordon Broome. School officials stated it is important for the school and the community to be able to say that SCHS seniors will be ready to work once they graduate.

The Work Ready program is a state assessment that employers use when determining whether they will hire a job seeker. The assessment is based on three components –reading, math and research skills- which establish one of four levels for the subject taking the assessment. A fourth component of the exam gives test takers a profile of their strengths, weaknesses, and potential job interest areas. A local report shows that there are more than 1,000 people certified as Work Ready in Stephens County, with 310 receiving the highest certification (either gold or platinum).