"Cautiously optimistic" is how Jeff Tibbals described the current job outlook in Scott County. The mayor of Scott County said there has been signs of employment growth recently.
"We don't want to say we're in the clear... but we're continuing with the efforts," he said Wednesday.
This week, Huntsville-based Tennier announced they received a $98 million contract. The contract is not expected to produce any new jobs, but it will keep current jobs at the plant active.
Meanwhile, other businesses have seen job growth in the last several months. Companies, like JDS, Takahata, and Great Dane have all announced recent job growth.
In a one year span, Scott County has seen unemployment go from 22.3%
(February 2011) to 17.6% percent (February 2012), with the last few
months showing significant signs of unemployment decreases.
Joe King recently started working for Great Dane.
"I've seen growth three different times in the last year... and we're still growing," King said.
However, there are many who still deal with looking for work.
"I was logging, then I was in construction... and now I mow yards," said Douglas McMahan. "It's been hard...can't find nothing."
Mayor Tibbals said further growth all depends on the future of the Scott County Hospital. He said without a new operator by the end of the month, the hospital could close. That would nearly eliminate recent job growth.
"That's major for us right there. That will lose 2.7% of our employment if that closes," Mayor Tibbals said.
In spite of the encouraging signs elsewhere... Tibbals still calls the economy "fragile" at best.
"Local industries have worked hard to stay here," the mayor added.
Mayor Tibbals said if all goes according to plan and the hospital stays open, he would like to see the unemployment rate drop below 15 percent by year's end.
The last time it was that low was in October 2008.