Manatee commissioners working on plan to get residents back to work

In Manatee County, there are a lot of projects that need work, and getting them done could be key to getting residents back to work. 

"I haven't been able to sleep thinking about all of this,” said Commissioner Carol Whitmore. “I know it’s probably going to be worse than what it was in 2009." 

In 2009, Commissioner Carol Whitmore watched as Manatee County's unemployment rate soared to 12 percent. 

In response, the county developed the ‘Jobs Now’ program, which created more than 4,000 jobs were created in two years. 

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"We did it right, we got our local people back to work," said Whitmore. 

Commissioner Whitmore believes a hybrid program could be successful. County projects can be fast-tracked as workers are hired locally. 

"They're going to be construction, in our preserves, infrastructure type things,” Whitmore explained. “That’s usually what’s in our capital improvement fund.” 

More consideration would be given to local contractors or companies looking to hire locally. 

Before COVID-19 appeared in Manatee, the county's unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent. It's a number they'll continue to aim for as the county looks for ways to get residents back to work. 

"We've got the talent, we’ve got the knowledge, why reinvent the wheel," said Whitmore. 

The plan will be discussed further during their May 19 meeting.