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The equation changed in the winter, when layoffs hit the wind industry hard, Shamblin said. Unemployment for June was 6.7 percent, still below the state average but the highest in Nolan County since at least 2000.
"We were able to keep most of the people that worked here, but we did have to give raises to keep them here," he said.
He boosted entry level pay a bit and also offered bonuses to workers who brought in other workers.
"There wasn't enough people for them and all of us, I guess," said Rainey, one of the owners of T R Oil Field Construction.
"When it all shut down, all four of them came back looking for a job. By then, it'd slowed down for us, too," Rainey said.
"As the wind industry grew in Nolan County, so did my business," said Marth, who owns Big Boys Barbecue with his wife, Jane. He said he's only noticed a slight dip in business during the past two to three months.
Mainly, though, he said he focused on trying to keep the employees he had.
though many companies contacted for this article were reluctant to reveal pay scale information.
"We'd say, 'Well, we have production opportunities in USG,' " referring to United States Gypsum, one of the larger manufacturing employers in Nolan County.
There were no jobs to offer, he said, adding that he had already laid off some workers in January.
Many non wind businesses of all types found it challenging to hire and retain employees.
"We have some very good service companies in town doing quite well," Becker said.
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Before the wind boom, Sweetwater's biggest factory type employers, like Ludlum Measurements (about 400 employees) and USG (around 240), "were paying a good, livable wage," Becker said.
Now, the number is down to "a Mbt Men's Kisumu 3s Sandal minimum" of 350, said Becker, whose organization administers the city's half cent sales tax to give incentives for new businesses to come to Sweetwater. The organization also uses sales tax money for business retention.
The national recession has combined with banking woes to choke funding for some wind related projects, he said. Wind companies are also still Skechers Flex
"The construction part of the wind business has almost slowed down to nothing" in Nolan County, Becker said.
The jobs are physical and sometimes require nights spent far from home. But the pay could start at $14 per hour for unskilled laborers, not including overtime.
Sweetwater businesses compete against wind jobs
In response to the wind related employers, "Several different companies have adjusted their wages up a little bit," Becker said, Vans Boots Tan
A year ago, probably a little more than 1,000 workers from the Sweetwater area were employed in the wind industry, said Ken Becker, executive director of Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development.
Still, "the wind energy has paid a premium wage in comparison," Becker said. Shamblin said she thought the difference might have been about $1.50 an hour last year for entry level jobs.
But though Marth said the benefits have far outweighed any challenges, the wind industry has been something of a double edged sword for other businesses when it came to hiring.
Work related to the construction and servicing of wind turbines soon became prized by job seekers in Nolan County.
The response: " 'No, not interested in that. I want to work for wind,' " Shamblin said.
Rainey would hear again from his former employees around March, after the completion of some wind construction projects.
This was last year, the height of the wind boom in Nolan County, where the first large scale wind turbines were built only nine years previously. The boom brought in big commercial construction contractors, along with maybe 20 or so service and tooling companies who set up shop in the Sweetwater area.
Gaylan Marth said he still sees the benefits of the wind industry walk into his restaurant everyday.
"If a guy could work and wanted to work, he was in the wind farm business," Marth said. "Everybody has had trouble keeping and getting hands."
anxiously awaiting the final approval of transmission lines to carry their wind power to market.
the majority of Nolan County wind workers were getting paid by out of state commercial contractors, he said.
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