Bentley speaks at chamber luncheonBy Emily Beckett Published 4:53pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Gov. Robert Bentley spoke to Chilton County Chamber of Commerce members at their monthly luncheon Tuesday as part of his Road to Economic Recovery Tour.
Bentley’s presentation focused on job creation, government efficiency efforts and industrial development, with updates on Alabama’s unemployment rate and road projects.
“Every week, we’re able to go somewhere in the state and announce jobs,” Bentley said. “On the state level, we’re doing a good job, and we’re going to continue that.”
Bentley noted the state’s current unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, which is significantly lower than June 2011’s 9.3 percent despite rising from 7.4 percent this May.
“When I came into office, it was nearly 10 percent,” Bentley said. “We’re at 7.8 right now. We’re still below any state around us. We’re the lowest Southern state as far as the unemployment rate right now.”
Chilton County’s unemployment rate in June was 8.5 percent.
Regarding Alabama’s budget, Bentley said the state has already saved $675 million annually since he took office, and his goal is to save $1 billion annually by the end of his term.
“Sometimes, it’s not bad to go through some difficult times,” Bentley said. “You never make tough decisions until you don’t have enough money.”
Bentley acknowledged concerns about Internet sales taxes not being collected statewide but said the bigger issue was the loss of jobs resulting from local businesses having to close as a result.
Another problem is training enough skilled workers to fill those jobs, he said.
“We work very closely with our two-year college systems,” Bentley said. “It’s very important that they realize their role not only is to academically train people for a four-year degree, but it’s also to train people for the workforce. I think that all education ought to lead to a job.”
Regarding road projects, Bentley approved three in Chilton County in May as part of Round 1 of funding for ATRIP, the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program.
The projects are resurfacing County Road 59 from CSX Railroad to County Road 24; resurfacing Lake Mitchell Road from Interstate 65 to Nell Street in Clanton; and resurfacing County Road 42 from U.S. 31 to I-65 in Jemison.
The next chamber luncheon will be held Sept. 4 at Clanton First United Methodist Church.