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: http://gaworkready.org/reimbursements

Hire Work Ready fact sheet: http://gaworkready.org/files/resources/url/Hire_Work_Ready_fact_sheet0.pdf

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 HWR@gov.state.ga.us

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).

Toccoa group lobbies in D.C

Local leaders say they are hopeful about receiving support for two major initiatives to help spur economic growth in the community.

Toccoa Mayor Bob Troup, Stephens County Commission chairman Dean Scarborough, Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce chairman Lee Hicks, development authority chairman Cam Parker and development authority executive director Tim Martin recently returned from a series of meetings with Georgia’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.

While in the nation’s capitol, the local contingent sought support for the widening of Highway 17 to I-85 and the Toccoa-Stephens County Infrastructure Improvement Plan, which would provide sewer access to unserved areas and create growth opportunities to help us achieve economic viability.

The improvement plan has been previously reviewed and authorized, but not yet appropriated.

"Our trip to Washington, D.C. proved that two things are evident in the way our government works,” Scarborough said.

“The first is that we have representation, but if we don’t let our representatives know what our needs and objectives are, then our issues will not stand out,” he said.

“The second thing I came away with is that it is much more effective for our leaders in Washington to see a face instead of just a voice or a name when we make contact with them,” Scarborough said.

“I thought this was a very productive trip and well worth the time and effort. The meetings with our senators and Congressman Deal and Congressman Broun went well,” Hicks said.

“It was good for us to be focused on our core issues of the sewer project, the widening of Highway 17, and the water level in Lake Hartwell,” Hicks said.

“I was impressed with our representatives because they seemed to be up to speed on these issues and were ready and willing to discuss them. We received some encouraging comments,” he said.

“Our trip was both rewarding and discouraging,” Troup said.

“We learned that DOT is definitely going to complete the acquisition of rights of way for both the first section and the second section of Highway 17,” he said.

“On the first seven miles, 80 percent of the property needed has already been purchased. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our sewer expansion project will take longer than we had anticipated,” Troup said.

“This trip gave us the opportunity to tell our story and to provide compelling reasons as to why we are good partners,” Parker said.

“We have a 100-year track record of industrial and business success. We have workers who are among the most productive in the world and we have a united community that supports our economic development efforts - we have put our money where our mouths are,” Parker said.

“Our legislators need to understand that given the chance, our community and its citizens will produce good returns on their investment. This visit was designed to help them help us, and I believe we accomplished that goal,” he said.

Pictured: Cam Parker, Bob Troup, Dean Scarborough, Senator Johnny Isakson, Lee Hicks, Tim Martin.