I figured since I write for fun, I may as well get paid for it too, right? Thus, I've re-written my jobs feature for print/online, and submitted it to Politico for possible publication. And hey, if it gets published, I get $100. It's currently in editing, and I don't know if it will make it to the website or not, but that'd be pretty cool if it did. I've copypasta'd the story below. Feel free to check it out.
Displaced Workers Place Blame on Local Government
By Carl Gibson
MOREHEAD, KY- In her sixties, Donna Fife is currently taking vocational classes after she lost her job with Cintas in Bath County; one of many victims in the current recession.
"I was in the workforce for 40 years," Fife said. "And now that's gone."
Fife and over 150 others are taking advantage of free job training at the Rowan Campus of the Maysville Community Technical College in Morehead. Their former employer is providing two years of unemployment checks for each worker, along with two years of tuition-free classes. The Bath facility officially closed at the end of January. For some workers, the sewing factory was their first and only job.
"I honestly don't blame these companies for closing down," 14-year Cintas Veteran Jennifer Carpenter said. "I blame our government for letting it happen."
Both Carpenter and her husband worked for Cintas and Carhartt, respectively. Citing lower demand, Carhartt has ceased several manufacturing operations in Kentucky along with Cintas. Carpenter says the pressure is on to find work soon without any regular household income.
"Now you've got both incomes gone, and you've got three kids to raise," Carpenter said. "But you can't depend on the government, because the government's what's got us in this kind of shape to begin with."
State Senator RJ Palmer represents Bath County. He said it's now more crucial than ever to entice potential employers with incentives to relocate to Eastern Kentucky. Bath County Judge-Executive Carolyn Belcher said in a weakened economy, that's easier said than done.
"You hear how tough it is to get loans and credit for start-up companies," Belcher said. "People who might have been planning expansions at one time are probably pulling back."
On the other hand, Governor Steve Beshear believes state government isn't doing enough to help companies currently in Kentucky stay in business. Beshear said Bath Manufacturing is just one example.
"Most of our incentive packages are geared towards attracting new businesses to move in here from other places," Beshear said. "We need to concentrate on existing businesses and keeping jobs here at home."
Senator Palmer said to keep jobs in Kentucky, future tax incentives should be focused more toward the service sector.
"Manufacturing seems to be on the decline, and services seem to be on the rise," Palmer said. “We should tailor our training toward that as well."
Jennifer Carpenter is considering job training in respiratory care or nursing. She said there's a bleak future for the state's manufacturing jobs if current economic trends continue.
"All of our jobs have gone overseas and across the border," Carpenter said. "Are they going to have to build fences to keep us out of these other countries, to raise our families?"
Despite her age, Donna Fife said she is determined to get training and find more work. The 62-year-old added whatever field she ends up choosing, it will be far different than what she's used to.
"I've been in sewing for forty years, and the sewing is gone," Fife said. "Whether it's medical or business, or whatever, you're gonna have to do it."
As recently displaced workers start taking classes, Judge-Executive Belcher said proper training will be a key to future success. She believes Cintas' former employees will find work soon, due to their work ethic.
"We're talking about stable, long-term employed people," Belcher said. "A really good piece of the workforce that employers are going to be looking for."
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