Bringing Jobs to Jenkins County - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Bringing Jobs to Jenkins County

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Augusta, GA -

A recent study shows Jenkins County is one of Georgia's poorest and unhealthiest counties.

It also has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the peach state, at nearly 18%.

Jenkins County falls below the poverty line – so that means all the kids get free meals in schools.

It also helps the county qualify for federal grants.

But right now, county leaders want to bring jobs so families can afford to put food on the table.

Mary McMillan has spent her entire life in Jenkins County.

Over the years, she's seen the ups and downs.

"It has really gotten bad. There are no jobs here. There are no stores to shop," said Mary McMillan.

This is Cotton Street in downtown Millen – where several businesses have shut down.

The Café on Cotton is one of the few restaurants still open.

"You can't afford to eat out that much because stuff has gotten so high now and the economy has gotten so bad. Most of us eat at home," said McMillan.

"Around 7 years ago, 3 major factories including Jockey closed their doors putting a-thousand people out of work and also tripled Jenkins County's unemployment rate."

But as the jobless rate goes up, the population is going down.

For business owners like Amber Cates, it's a double whammy – with fewer people and a tough economy.

"We don't have as much money coming in so we have to do other things to bring more in," said Amber Cates, who owns The Café on Cotton.

McMillan hopes new stores will reduce her commute and make retirement life not so strenuous.

"It's a long way to go to Waynesboro or Statesboro just for a Wal-Mart."

Last year, the Jenkins County Correctional Center added jobs.

County leaders are also talking to several companies in the green energy sector.

While Jenkins County holds a high unemployment rate at nearly 18%, the average across Georgia is significantly lower.

It stood at 8.8% in July.

The South Carolina jobless rate remained a steady 8.1% for a second consecutive month.

The national unemployment rate stands at 7.4%

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