May 18, 2011 -
A recent report on the economic health of Lowndes County shows some tough numbers, but the findings are giving business owners and officials an idea on how to maneuver through.
"When you have a challenge, when you have a problem, you can't fix it until you come to grips with the fact that you do have an issue that you need to deal with," says Myrna Ballard. That's what dozens of business leaders and officials are looking to do.
VSU Professor Cindy Tori released her 2011 report on the economic health of Lowndes County on May 17th which compares Lowndes to 14 other communities of the same size, geography and education base. The unemployment rate ranked sixth among the cities, the average weekly income ranked 15th and the poverty rank 14th.
"Our average wages are lower, our percentage of knowledge jobs are lower and if we can build those industry, we'll be able to improve our median income, improve our average rates, create those better paying jobs and help elevate the standard of living in the community," Professor Tori says.
One of the bright spots coming out of this study is the number of residents over the age of 25 without high school diplomas is declining, going from more than 50% in 1970 to under 20% in 2009.
"We really need to push education levels because education levels are going to push median income averages up. The more education, the more background, the more training people have," says Crawford Powell. Powell, like most residents, hopes that creates more opportunities in the county.
Overall, Lowndes County ranked 11th out of the 15 communities. Officials hope that getting a look at the numbers now can help them prepare for the future.