Local residents who are seeking help with unemployment benefits or searching for a job will have to travel out of the county from now on, or use online resources as the Georgia Department of Labor moves to close the Cedartown Career Center next week.
Signs posted on the doors announced to those seeking unemployment help from the local office will now have to go to Rome, Cartersville or the Cobb-Cherokee Career Centers when the offices close permanently on Thursday, Feb. 15.
Georgia Department of Labor Communications Director David Bennett said that two factors have driven the state agency to close the Cedartown office.
First, he said that increased use of online services by state residents through smartphones and computers have driven the department to focus on what they provide on the website more than face-to-face services.
Additionally, Bennett said with a growing economy and labor markets that a counter-intuitive problem develops: unemployment services aren't needed as much.
"We've had several years of a good market, so the agency is adjusting to a better market," he said. "And there are fewer people to serve."
The last initial unemployment numbers released for Polk County were at 132 claims made in December 2017, compared to November 2017 figures of 112. The county's initial unemployment rate for December 2017 was at 4.7 percent for the final month of the year heading into January, and had stayed the same when November's was adjusted to 4.7 percent as well.
That left 867 people out of the workforce out of a total of 18,409 available to be hired in December.
Local officials weren't made aware of the closing by the state.
"I'm very disappointed that the state Department of Labor didn't even see fit to notify local governments of their planned action," Cedartown City Manager Bill Fann said.
In conversations with State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown,) he expressed his disappointment with Commissioner Mark Butler and the Department of Labor for failing to notify him as a state representative and as a citizen of Cedartown of the impending closing.
"This has been an asset for the community," Kelley said.
He added that he is committed to trying to reverse the decision if possible.
Several local industries do use Department of Labor services for hiring temporary and full time employees from the Polk County area, including the City of Cedartown.
The office - located in Cedartown's Northside Industrial Park at 262 N. Park Blvd. - opened in 2010 after replacing the former office location on West Avenue.