NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston mayor Keith Summey is excited about the possibilities.
Summey beamed Tuesday reflecting on his first work opportunity, a feeling he says he'd like to extend to area youth in surrounding communities.
"I tell you, that first paycheck I got was wonderful," he said.
"All 20 bucks of it."
The city received a $1.6 million grant through the U.S. Department of Labor, to fund two satellite American Job Centers in at-risk communities through North Charleston.
Youth between 16-29 years old qualify for the city program, with a special focus on students who've dropped out of school, and are without employment.
"A lot of these young people are extremely bright," Summey said. "They just haven't directed their knowledge and their skill sets in the right direction."
The training sites for the program have not yet been determined, but officials are partnering with local ministries and businesses to pinpoint locations in greatest need, also the most convenient to its participants.
"Comparatively speaking, our region does fairly well when you look at unemployment statistics and opportunities," said Ron Mitchum, Executive Director of Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of June, the national unemployment rate stood at 5.3%, while in North Charleston, the rate was 5.9%.
"We don't want people to look at statistics and think everyone that wants a job has a job," Mitchum added.
"There's still a segment of our community that is underemployed," Summey said.
The program will accept as many as 400 applicants in its first year, narrowing the field to approximately 250 participants. Pre-employment programs will run six weeks, combining classroom and work-training instruction in fields like information technology, manufacturing, healthcare, and specialty trades.
Interested applicants are encouraged to contact the Trident SC Works Center, on Hanahan Road in North Charleston.