The board unanimously passed a motion to appoint the committee to conduct the study after Laurel Fork District Supervisor Andy Jackson entertained the motion during the board’s June meeting. During its July 14 meeting, the supervisors will appoint two board members and three local citizens to the study committee.
Carroll County is fighting to create jobs in every direction, Jackson said, noting the Results project has brought 250 to 265 jobs to the area at the Crossroads Institute in Galax. The county continues to work with small businesses, which has helped spur 140 new jobs in the past couple of years.
Jackson pointed out that the county continues to encourage development around the four Interstate 77 exits in the county with infrastructure investments. Additionally, the “Buy Local” campaign developed by the TAKY (Tri-Area Kommittee on Youth) is off to a good start, he said.
“In this same vain, I serve on the New River Regional Jail Authority and had the opportunity to visit the new state prison in Grayson County with the County Administrator (Gary Larrowe),” Jackson said. “Knowing that the jobs that are created from such a facility are basically recession proof and are permanent in nature and in the range of 300 to 350 employees, I feel that the attraction of such a facility needs to have some discussion. As we all know, this is not an overnight opportunity and may take many years to become reality, but I would like to explore the idea of attracting such a facility to Carroll County. I do not see this as being the complete solution to our needs, but it certainly could be a piece of our future.”
Approximately 350 jobs are expected to be generated when the new state prison opens in Grayson County in 2010. From talks he’s had while servingon the New River Regional Jail Authority, Jackson believes the state prison system is looking for more locations.
“People are breaking in every day to get in these things,” Jackson joked. “With the economy the way it is, larcenies are way up. People are stealing more and breaking into homes more. A lot of them are stealing to eat, but many of the more serious crimes have not increased as much.”
Jackson said his whole point in bringing up the study was to see if it would be feasible in the area, especially with Carroll County missing out on many industrial development opportunities in recent years.
“My motion was to do a study before it is too late because we have so many lost opportunities in this county over the years. I just want to have a study done to see the feasibility of getting one,” he said. “If we apply for one, we are not guaranteed to get one. But if we don’t apply, we definitely won’t get one. I want us to make our mind up if we want one or not while they are available.”
Jackson said bringing a state prison to any area has its pros and cons. Having a study committee would allow Carroll County to see if the pluses outweigh the minuses.
“It gives you between 300 to 350 good-paying jobs. We definitely need all the jobs we can get,” Jackson said. “And it’s not like an old sewing plant you can take to El Salvador or China or whatever.”