Governor Bentley pointed out in his State of the State address that Alabama ranks as the 6th poorest state in the country. And how does Dothan measure up against this statistic?
Steve Turkoski is the project manager with the Chamber of Commerce. While he agrees Alabama is one of the poorest states, he says Houston County is in good shape.
“In the metropolitan statistical area, we are not one of the poorest counties in the state,” said Turkoski.
Turkoski says the state poverty level doesn’t take certain factors into consideration, like the low cost of living in Alabama and an individual’s willingness to work.
“The fact is that the cost of living is lower in Alabama than it is in the rest of the country, and for in Dothan, for example, the cost of living is 87.6% of what the national average is,” Turkoski said.
He also says although the local poverty level is much lower than in other counties, the real problem driving local poverty is the number of people who are not working.
“So we could actually bring up our per-capita income by getting more people to work.”
And when it comes to finding work, Wiregrass United Way 211 Executive Director David Duke says there are lots of resources that people may not be aware of.
“Our 211 program we provide information and referrals for programs that help people throughout the Wiregrass area.”
Duke says his organization puts people in touch with the agencies that can provide the skills and training needed to get work.
“There are resources, there are agencies, there are programs out there that are ready and willing to help those that want to help themselves.”
Both Turkoski and Duke say lack of education and job training play a major role in the local unemployment and poverty rates.