Monday, November 23, 2009

Labor commissioner calls for bipartisan summit

Some call him the "smartest politician in the State of Georgia & I can see why.
Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond says people figure he has the toughest job in Georgia, but he disagrees. "I'm not depressed," he said. "I know every recession ends." To come up with a way to spark new jobs, Mr. Thurmond is calling for a bipartisan summit. Such a gathering could draw from the best minds in Georgia for ideas on how the state can climb out of its job slump. The disappearance of construction and manufacturing jobs has hit white males harder than other demographic groups. Many of them have never been out of work or unable to support their families, leading to a sense of hopelessness that prevents them from gaining new skills for the jobs that are available. That makes them structurally unemployed and in need of creative solutions, Mr. Thurmond said Wednesday at a luncheon held by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. The foundation began planning to hold the summit in early January, in time to impact the General Assembly and next year's budget, said foundation President Kelly McCutchen. He said the goal is to develop workable ideas, possibly with the advice of national figures. Republican lawmakers who saw Mr. Thurmond on Thursday at a job fair in Dalton say they were impressed with his organization skills and energy. "Everybody I saw speak to him seemed very appreciative of what he's done," Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, said. That enthusiasm and organization could make a summit come together, according to Rep. Roger Williams, R-Dalton. "There's a lot of expertise out there as far as industry and business goes," he said. "If anybody could put it together, Commissioner Thurmond could do it." Mr. Thurmond said Friday that he doesn't have an agenda he wants to push. Success will probably take a combination of ideas: tax cuts and expenditures in education and publicity about available resources for those needing retraining, he said.
Walter Jones of Morris News Service is the source of this story.

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