For generations, our nation’s leaders have invested in the infrastructure that made our nation a superpower. That is why President Obama proposed investments in infrastructure in the American Jobs Act to create construction jobs today rebuilding America’s roadways, railways, transit systems, schools and airports. And examples of these sorts of projects are taking place across the county.
For the folks in Beaufort County, South Carolina, their vision was to build an educational hub that held both cultural and historical meaning for their community on St. Helena Island. Tomorrow, their vision becomes a reality with the groundbreaking for the St. Helena Library.
The Library will be located adjacent to the historic Penn Center campus where, in 1862, an African-American school and cultural facility was established to educate freed slaves.
Nowadays, St. Helena is still underserved with an unemployment rate double the national average. But this project will help the community grow in the short term by saving or creating 75 construction jobs and 25 to 30 library staff jobs.
And in the long term, this multigenerational facility will provide St. Helena with free success-building resources for all ages including learning labs for children, creative career labs for teens and workforce skills lab for adults. It will function as a center for education, learning, connecting the community to its past, as well as to the internet, ideas and job training. It will help bring economic activity and opportunities to this small community.
The funding for the project comes from a partnership among Beaufort County, the State of South Carolina, private citizens and USDA, which is providing a $6,000,000 loan and $2,500,000 grant to make this educational hub possible.
In the weeks to come I hope that folks in Washington DC remember projects like the St. Helena Library, and the community spaces and schools that helped make our nation great. Now is the time to commit to the infrastructure improvements that our country needs by supporting the American Jobs Act.
If Congress can come together to pass this legislation, worthy construction projects will put hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers back on the job across the nation. Working and middle class Americans will have more money in their pockets because of a payroll tax cut. And we’ll be building the infrastructure this nation needs to build an economy to compete in the 21st century.