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Grant to provide more area jobs

With unemployment on the rise from the national level to the local level, signs of new jobs are few and far between, but despite the jobless increase, Pike County is expected to gain new jobs.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley announced Wednesday a $180,000 grant had been award to Pike County.

The grant, which is a Community Development Block Grant, will help fund improvements on the Henderson Highway from U.S. 231 to the railroad tracks.

These improvements are linked to expansion plans by KW Container, a tenant in the Troy Industrial Park.

“The money will help us get the project done in a timely manner,” Pike County Commission Chairman Robin Sullivan said. “This industry could have located in another part of the state, but were asked by Mayor Jimmy Lunsford to stay here and they did.”

The grants, along with additional money from the Alabama Department of Transportation will allow the county to resurface 1.2 miles of the industrial park access.

The improvements are vital to handling existing and increased traffic due to the expansion.

Sullivan said the commission originally applied for a $550,000 industrial access grant, but only received half of what was requested.

“We asked the board for an extension,” Sullivan said.

At a March 12 meeting with the governing board they got an extra $150,000 in funding that coupled with the additional funding announced Wednesday bring more jobs to Pike County.

The expansion will create 18 jobs.

“It is encouraging to see an Alabama company expand and create jobs,” Riley said. “I am very pleased to support the continued success of a local business and ensure new jobs for area residents.”

“Our hope is to get this project done during the summer, right now it’s too rainy and you don’t like to do these things during cooler weather,” Sullivan said.

County Administrator Harry Sanders said there are a lot of other things at work here, but stressed the importance of the new jobs.

The announcement of new jobs comes just days after Pike County unemployment reached a high of 7.6 percent in February, which was more than double last year’s numbers.