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Recovery in Action: TN, CO, TX, LA, MS

Not too long after President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law, the stories started rolling in – stories about hard working folks that were able to keep their jobs and struggling communities that received funding to improve their schools and their roads. These are the kinds of stories we’ll be sharing with you on – the Recovery Act in action in communities all across the country.

"When Kenneth Wade lost her job making washing machine motors for General Electric in Murfreesboro, she knew a midlife career change was in order after 29 years on the assembly line. So, Wade, 52, has spent the last two years learning about computer programming to get an associate's degree in information technology — all at taxpayers' expense. Wade, whose job moved to India, was able to receive unemployment checks for two years and get a few other perks as part of a federal program that aids people whose employers shift their jobs overseas. And now, the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program is being expanded as part of President Barack Obama's stimulus plan, a move that may double the annual cost of the federal program to $2 billion within five years. New rules cover a broader range of workers than simply those in the hard-hit manufacturing sector. Covered workers are able to qualify for unemployment checks for up to three years — or nearly twice as long as the typical worker who isn't affected by ‘off-shoring’ or the shift of jobs to foreign countries. Others get help paying health insurance costs. Also, starting in May, laid-off white-collar workers in service industries such as accounting, software development, auto-parts design and call center operations became eligible for the more generous benefits, a move that could add more workers to the rolls as unemployment in Tennessee flirts with the 10 percent level, a full percentage point above the U.S. rate."

"Today, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) started a three-mile asphalt resurfacing project on Colfax Avenue (US 40) between Kipling Street and Sheridan Boulevard. The $4.7 million project is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and is one of two Recovery Act projects starting this week in the Denver metro area, bringing the total to four in Denver. ‘This is the second transportation infrastructure stimulus project to begin in the Seventh Congressional District. This project will improve a heavily used section of Colfax Avenue while creating and saving jobs for APC, a company in my district. This legislation continues to invest in our aging infrastructure while providing economic opportunities for many Coloradans,’ stated U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07). This segment of Colfax Avenue carries approximately 27,800 vehicles a day and is currently in poor condition. The rotomilling and asphalt paving will help extend the life of the pavement. In addition to paving, the project will repair and replace concrete curb and gutter and sidewalk."

"Willie Fort is a lucky man. Last month he came within a whisker of losing his construction job, but now he is off to Louisiana to work on a highway project that will employ him for at least two years. The 32-year-old father of four from Mississippi is among hundreds of construction workers who are either keeping their jobs or finding new employment as the U.S. government's record $787 billion package to jump-start the economy is slowly disbursed. His employer, Texas-based Austin Bridge and Road, bid for some of the stimulus-funded construction projects across the United States, saving Fort and several other employees from joining the country's growing ranks of unemployed. "We were getting ready to lay off about two dozen people on a project in Mississippi and as a result of having picked up one of the stimulus projects in Louisiana, we offered them all jobs," said Jim Andoga, the company's president. "We have not hired new people, but what this project did is to save 20 to 30 other jobs. The project is going to go into high gear in about three months and we are going to need to hire about 20 people more." Austin Bridge and Road has retained 12 to 15 white collar jobs. The company, which employs about 1,200 workers across the country, had been getting ready to lay off in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 white-collar and blue-collar workers, but these jobs were saved because of the stimulus, Andoga said. Rob Loch, owner of Loch Sand and Construction Company in Missouri, said he had rehired 15 laid-off workers after being awarded work to rebuild the interstate highway. "We anticipate in the next couple of weeks several more hires as well. Without this job, none of these people would have been called back," Loch told Reuters. AGCA's Simonson said about 85 percent of construction companies have indicated they were scrapping layoffs or adding new employees because of the stimulus funds."