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Gov. Bentley Tours Athens Businesses

ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – Gov. Robert Bentley spent much of the day in Athens Thursday. He visited a number of locally owned and grown businesses as part of his Road to Economic Recovery Tour. The focus is on creating jobs across the state and developing a workforce ready for those jobs.

Gov. Bentley says his goal is better preparing workers for the jobs that are either available now or will be soon. The governor met with one local contractor who said there aren’t enough qualified people to fill the jobs they have.

“Business and industry ought to tell education what type of training that you need for somebody that you want to work for you,” Bentley told the owners of TR Electrical, in Athens. He met with the owners of several Athens businesses to discuss how they’ve grown their business during a down economy, and what the state can do to help provide for more growth.

“Employees and training, getting better trained employees, working with the state in that regard, we talked about building in Limestone County, maybe getting some enforcement as far as the inspections, make sure they’re meeting the proper building code which is not being done now. We also talked about health insurance,” says Tim Bauer, TR Electrical co-owner.

Bentley says the needs of business and industry vary as you cross the state, but the one constant is the need for qualified applicants for existing jobs and future developments. He told an earlier gathering in Athens that’s why he created the College and Career Ready Task Force, to merge the business and education communities and develop a plan for providing an expanded ready to work workforce.

“And we want students to realize that this is important. A skilled job is not a low paying job, it’s not a low skills job. You have to know math and science and it takes a lot of work to do this. But in the long run, those jobs pay more money than just about any jobs out there,” Bentley told reporters.

The governor says he’ll have a list of recommendations from the task force later this year.