Madison County looks to processing plant to halt unemployment slideBy Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
When the Agency on Workforce Innovation released its unemployment figures for June, they peppered their press release with some positive news.
The positive news was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognizing Florida as the top station in the nation for workforce training programs. They garnered the top spot after being ranked number two in 2010.
Overall, the state’s unemployment rate was 10.6 percent with 982,000 people jobless, out of a work force of 9,234,000. The rate remained unchanged since May but was eight-tenths of a point lower than June 2010.
While Madison County did not have the highest unemployment rate in the state, it was the county with the highest unemployment rate in the Suwannee River Valley.
Madison County ranked eighth in the state with 12.2 percent unemployment.
The county hopes to get a small respite soon, when Ferris-Stahl-Meyer begins accepting applications for its meat processing plant towards the middle or end of August. The plant hopes to be in full production by late October. Plans are for the plant to hire 70 people at the start and then gradually hire more.
The processing plant will occupy the old Dixie Packers and Smithfield plant in the industrial park.
Sherilyn Lightcap, administrative assistant to County Coordinator Allen Cherry, said that it appears that Ferris-Stahl-Meyer is committed to hiring people locally.
Hamilton County, Madison County’s neighbor to the northeast, was right on Madison’s heels with 12.1 percent unemployment. Dixie County ranked number 12 with 12.0 percent unemployment. Taylor County was 33rd in the state with 10.5 percent unemployment. Suwannee County was 41st with a 9.9 percent jobless rate. Jefferson County ranked 53rd with a 8.5 percent jobless rate. Lafayette County ranked 63rd with 7.4 percent unemployment.
The top three counties with the highest unemployment rates were Hendry (16.2 percent), Flagler (14.6 percent) and Miami-Dade (13.9 percent).