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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Business

Jonathan Serrie

Atlanta, GA

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Creating Jobs: Where to Invest?

February 25, 2010 - 9:51 AM | by: Jonathan Serrie

How can government best stimulate job growth: Invest in businesses that create jobs, or the people who fill them?

That’s a matter for debate, as 21 states launch job initiatives using federal stimulus funds.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services is teaming up with five non-profit job training programs to create the “Opportunity Project.” Five hundred low-income residents will have a chance to reboot their careers, thanks to $10 million dollars in federal stimulus money.

“We can actually place people in jobs — full-time jobs, part-time jobs — and pay 100 percent of the wages,” said DSS Director Mary Wilson.

Critics of such programs say federal money would be better invested with job creators, in the form of payroll tax breaks for businesses. U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) questions what will happen to temporary jobs when federal stimulus funds run out.

“They’re make-do jobs,” Gingrey said. “They’re not jobs that are going to be there for the long-run. And in doing it that way, it’s much more costly than a tax cut.”

But the director of one of the non-profits participating in the Charlotte program says there is a case for investing in both employers and employees.

“Our clients get their foot in the door,” said Steffi Travis of Jacob’s Ladder Job Center. “They network. They build a reliable work history. And that has a benefit for them to become reliable and responsible employees down the road.” (Watch my related video report here).

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