The Cedartown Career Center might be closed as the Department of Labor moves out of Polk County, but the offices owned by the state won’t be shuttered for long.
A new tenant is set to move in as funds are being made available in the current year’s state budget and the coming year as well to ensure that Polk County residents are getting job assistance that will make a difference.
State Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) said that when he heard the Department of Labor office in Cedartown was closing in early February, he couldn’t believe it was happening.
“I know there was a lot of uncertainty for the community when the news came really out of nowhere that they were closing the employment office,” Kelley said. “I had concerns about what that would mean for our community to have a state-owned facility sitting in the middle of our industrial park in Cedartown unoccupied.”
Despite having a conversation with Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, the decision couldn’t be reversed and Kelley said he began to immediately see what a new use could be for the building.
“It was clear that we weren’t going to be able to undo his decision,” he said. “That’s when we started looking at other options.”
He felt that would hurt Cedartown’s ability to attract new industrial partners to move into the area, and that something needed to be moved in to ensure that in recruiting industry.
Kelley said that he got help from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office, House Appropriations chair Rep. Terry England and Technical College System of Georgia Commission Matt Arthur to fill the space.
“We kind of developed an idea of what a Polk County or Cedartown Career Center could look like,” he said. “It’ll be an area where residents in our community can come and get skills to get back into the workforce, and develop the tools they need to be part of the workforce that is needed.”
He said that it is important for people to have a place to file for unemployment benefits in the community, but just as important is workforce development and how it plays a role in attracting larger industries to invest locally.
So far, the 2018 amended budget includes $75,000 to re-open the former Department of Labor office. Additional funds are being allocated in the 2019 budget for the state’s fiscal year that has to be passed by the state house and senate before the end of March.
An official name and more details about the plan to open an adult education and workforce development center in Cedartown are also still in the works, Kelley said, but additional information will be forthcoming in the months to come.