State leaders discuss help for Cooper employees - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State leaders discuss help for Cooper employees

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

December 24, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Southwest Georgia lawmakers are stepping up the effort to assist 1,400 Cooper Tire employees who will be jobless in the new year.

On this Christmas Eve, they met at the gates of the plant, vowing to help re-train the work force and make them aware of the state's resources. They also say southwest Georgia needs to change the way it looks at industry.

The lay-offs for Cooper Tire's 1,400 employees will begin as soon as March, but today state leaders wasted no time making sure they'll get what's likely to be needed assistance. They'll hold a meeting December 30th at Albany Technical College to unveil what's available to un-employed workers and its likely to include money for education and retraining.

"If they're looking to go to college we want to see in many instances we have created opportunities for them to accept HOPE Scholarships so that they can go back and get an education," said Rep. Winfred Dukes, (D)-District 150.

Southwest Georgia's lawmakers said assistance will also include resume help and work assessments, in addition to information about Food Stamps and more. Lawmakers say Albany's not alone, many communities have found themselves in un-chartered economic waters.

"I don't think any of know what the quick fix is, there are no silver bullet to turning this thing around. But what we've got to do is remain committed and steadfast in our belief that what we've got is marketable not only to southwest Georgians but to the nation and to the entire world," said Rep. Ed Rynders, (R)- District 152.

The delegation has promised to be an important resource in attracting new business to southwest Georgia, but says the region must first change and think outside the box to be successful.

"In the past we've allowed ourselves to sit and say okay, we have the resources here, folks are going to come, that's not happening anymore. It's not happening in southwest Georgia, it's not happening in New Jersey, or New York, anywhere, midwest, we're going to have to go out and look for ways of creating work for our constituencies," said Senator-elect Freddie Powell Sims, (D)-District 12.

What type of work that may be leaders aren't sure, but Wednesday said it's got to be a more diversified business base.

All Cooper Tire employees are invited to the listening session December 30th at 6 o'clock at Albany Technical College. The meeting will be held in the Kirkland Conference Center.

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