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Teamwork Powers the Way to More Solar Jobs in Georgia

Thanks to great teamwork among labor, management, and the community, more jobs are coming to Brooks County, Georgia. 

The world’s largest utility company - the USA-based NextEra Energy - is currently working with the Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council on an initial solar farm, which has spurred economical growth in the area because of the hundreds of jobs the carpenters union secured and created for local residents.

This includes farmers whose crops were devastated by last year’s terrible severe weather.

When NextEra had an opportunity for another project, the company asked the carpenters union for assistance in securing the permit, and the carpenters answered the call by leveraging local political relationships built before and during the first project.  For instance, the SECRC formed a solid relationship with one of the Commissioners, who is a United Transportation Union member. Also, the Carpenters backed James Burchett (R) as state representative, a seat that he won in March. Brooks County hired James Burchett as the County attorney.

The Brooks County Commissioners meeting convened a public hearing recently on a rezoning petition from NextEra, so that it can build a second solar farm adjacent to the original project.

The immediate task was getting a group to attend the August 5 Brooks County Commissioners meeting and speak in support of the rezoning in a public hearing. Between 80-90 people attended, about 20 of whom spoke to oppose the second solar farm.

11 carpenters attended, with supportive comments offered by SECRC Political/Communications Director Brett A. Hulme and Local 256 Business Manager Meddy Settles. Another 8 supporters were there representing NextEra and the project’s contractor, Blattner Energy. Also speaking in support of the project were Brooks County’s Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Authority, and several non-profit organizations.

The measure passed unanimously and the rezoning permit was approved, which moves the project forward and makes the reality of more jobs for Brooks County one step closer. The SECRC looks forward to providing skilled manpower and to offer training to unskilled workers from the local community when this project is ready to go.