Pickering: Grant will help Burlington workers
By By William F. West / community editor
Aug. 20, 2002
QUITMAN U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering this morning announced a $3.29 million federal grant to help workers who lost their jobs last spring when the Burlington-Stonewall textile mill closed.
The 3rd District Republican said in a prepared statement that the grant "will bring much-needed benefits to workers who need help finding new, good-paying jobs in Mississippi."
Pickering said new training, education and hiring services will be a major part of the grant to help workers in Clarke, Lauderdale, Jasper and Wayne counties.
Pickering announced details of the grant at a news conference at the Clarke County Chamber of Commerce. He expressed his appreciation to President Bush and his administration for their assistance.
North Carolina-based Burlington filed for bankruptcy last year and announced it would close several manufacturing plants including Stonewall, which the company operated since 1962.
The plant, the largest employer in Clarke County with more than 800 workers, had operated under a number of owners for more than a century. Since closing, Clarke County's unemployment rate has soared into double digits.
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said in a prepared statement that Pickering "has joined the president and me in our commitment to put displaced Mississippi workers back to work and is working with us to get them assistance they need to succeed in careers with tremendous growth potential."
The Burlington grant will be administered by the Mississippi Development Authority together with local work force investment boards, local elected officials, business and education leaders and Jones Junior College.
Pickering's announcement came in the middle of a race pitting him against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows in the Nov. 5 election for the newly re-drawn 3rd Congressional District.
Pickering and Shows, who currently represents the 4th District, found themselves paired against each other after the state failed to keep pace with population growth trends, resulting in the loss of a congressional district.