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Year in Review – #4

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Vulnerable town ranking

By The Staff

The county got some unwanted national attention in early October when Forbes.com, the online version of Forbes magazine, ranked the county as “the most vulnerable town” in America.

On this top-10 list, Forbes.com cited the county’s 12.2 percent unemployment rate for August. It also noted that only 18.6 percent of the workforce here has an associate’s degree or higher and said about 20 percent of residents live at or below the poverty line.

Some local officials, such as County Administrator Steve Willis, challenged the methodology used by Forbes.com. He said the publication used outdated Census information that doesn’t take into account the population boom of Indian Land, which would certainly change the poverty and education levels.

Lancaster Mayor Joe Shaw offered another perspective, noting that the statistics left out the people component. He touted Lancastrians as being religious people who get along well with each other. “Our schools are good and we have a wonderful university,” Shaw added. “We have the tools.”

Keith Tunnell, president of the Lancaster County Economic Development Corp., didn’t gripe about the ranking. He looked at it as an opportunity to market a labor pool to prospective businesses and industries across the country.