To qualify as economically distressed, a county’s unemployment rate has to be at least 1 per-cent over the national average of 9.4 percent and the average county income must be at least 20 percent lower than the national average.
“We certainly meet that criteria,” said County Administrator Randy Dowling. “Our unemploy-ment rate is higher than the state unemployment rate.”
Gordon County’s unemployment rate for July was 13.9 percent, up just a fraction from June, but up 6.4 points over July 2008. The state unemployment rate is 10.6 percent.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration more than 86 percent of Georgia’s counties fall in the economic distressed category, making the majority of the state eligible for federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This fund-ing would benefit infrastructure and roadway development and maintenance.
The county submitted 12 roads to the state for the resurfacing program in March, according to Dowling. Last month the city received federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Re-investment Act to resurface two roads, Craigtown Road Newtown Church Road. The stimulus funds will repave a little more than four miles of those roads.
Dowling said the state receives the federal funds, accepts the bids and awards projects inde-pendently from the county. The project is due to be bid by the state in December and the resurfac-ing should begin sometime in Spring 2010.
The county could stand to receive more federal funds for projects now that Gordon is considered distressed.
“We have been proactive in our pursuit of federal funds and we have been successful,” Dowling said. “A lot of counties can’t say that. We are keeping in touch with the DOT and that has paid divi-dends."