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    A Times Editorial

    A prize for Pinellas

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 23, 2003

    Nabbing a new Job Corps job training center in Pinellas County merits congratulations all around. The residential facility will bring valuable services to our area's disadvantaged young people, giving hundreds of 16-to 24-year-olds the opportunity to overcome their poverty and personal circumstances.

    A Job Corps center, and the potential $30-million investment that comes with it, was a political plum pursued by 26 other regions. Thanks to cooperative efforts of officials from Pinellas County, St. Petersburg and the county school system, as well as the good offices of U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, the Largo Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, the prize was delivered here.

    The site chosen is on 66th Street at the current location of St. Petersburg College's administrative offices, which will relocate. A site in Midtown had been the first choice among local officials, but that option didn't fit Job Corps' criteria because it involved sharing a building at the Pinellas Technical Education Center campus. The U.S. Department of Labor requires that Job Corps facilities be independent sites. No matter. The Job Corps program is residential, housing 550 students. Only 10 percent of those served will commute, making the site placement less of a concern.

    Job Corps was created in 1964 and has provided training to more than 2-million young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Pinellas County Job Corps will provide training in computer technology, health care and the construction trades, supplemented by education in social skills. The first classes are expected to start sometime after two years.

    According to St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis III, the city has been the single largest exporter of young people to Job Corps programs in other parts of the country. Now that our area will have a facility and local residents will be given preference, "we will be capable of filling the seats," Davis says. This coup demonstrates a sincere commitment to bettering the lives of the area's less fortunate residents. The public officials who pulled this off deserve to take a bow.

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