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59 month streak over: Scott Co. no longer worst for unemployment | News

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59 month streak over: Scott Co. no longer worst for unemployment

(WBIR) A 59 month streak is over - Scott County no longer has the highest unemployment rate in the state.

County leaders are happy to finally see this streak end, but are hoping for more. Reducing the county's unemployment rate by more than one percentage point could move them out of the bottom 10 in the state.

"I pulled off on the side of the road and shout. I called the governor's office - this is big news because we've had this for 59 months," explained Scott County Industrial Development Board Executive Director Stacey Kidd when she heard the news.

For almost 5 years Scott County has been at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to jobs in the state of Tennessee. This February's jobless rate fell to 10.7%, a big improvement over the 13% unemployment the county saw at the same time last year.

"February 4, 2010 we lost 301 jobs in one day and that kind of set the spiral. Then we lost our hospital," said Kidd.

The rise didn't happen overnight.

Scott County's hospital is now back open under the name Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott and employing roughly 200 people.

And county officials are working with legislators to keep existing businesses in the area. And even helping them grow.

"We look at each individual company and what their needs are and if they come to us with land issues or a tax issues. We'll look at whatever we need to do, not always promising everything but to say hey we can work with you," explained Kidd.

Companies like Great Dane, Takahata Precision, and JDS Technologies are credited with helping lower unemployment by adding jobs in the past months.

"It's a very competitive market, so we are one point two percent from being out of the top 10 and we're all fighting for it right now it's an exciting time for Tennessee."

In addition to climbing up the state rankings - an improving economy is boosting the county's moral.

"I think our whole community is just smiling and proud of themselves right now because they all worked so hard," said Kidd.

Also in the top ten for highest unemployment in the state are Sevier and Cocke Counties. Cocke at 10.3% and Sevier at 9.7% for February.


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