Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 8, 2009

Stimulus could bring 75,000 positions to Indiana

When William Plank was laid off in November, he never imagined it would take him so long to find another job. Every day the 48-year-old truck driver spends nearly five hours on the computer, job hunting and posting résumés.

“I’ve filed for jobs online and in person, and since November I’ve only received one job interview,” he said. “It’s getting very discouraging.”

He blames the narrowing field.

“Look at the recent job postings,” he said. “The recent job postings on Hot Jobs are mystery shoppers.”

He’s cautiously hopeful the $787 billion stimulus package will turn his situation around. So are a lot of people in Kokomo, where the unemployment rate surpassed 17.4 percent in January, according to the Indiana Workforce Development.

When President Barack Obama signed the stimulus plan, he promised to create or retain 3.5 million jobs nationwide. Of those, 75,000 jobs would come to Indiana. The state was awarded approximately $4.3 billion to fund Medicaid, education, roads and bridges, nutrition, weatherization and water quality, among other investments.

But many questions are still left unanswered.

“We simply don’t know yet how a lot of the funds will come to Indiana,” said Jane Jankowski, press secretary for Gov. Mitch Daniels.

The stimulus funding has already been directed toward certain projects and priorities, she explained.

“There will not be a lot of discretionary funding,” she said.

Job creation will be a natural result of the numerous construction projects throughout the state. The projects will also result in better infrastructure, buildings, housing and energy. Other businesses will benefit from the trickle-down effect. While construction crews, contractors, architects and engineers are working, they’ll frequent the restaurants and retail stores to boost the economy in the area.

“[The governor’s] priorities are job creation and doing it in a speedy manner,” Jankowski said.

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