Wythe County officials say the unemployment rate in their county has reached its lowest point in nearly a decade.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the county’s March 2015 unemployment rate had fallen to 5.2% — a 6.8-point drop from February 2010’s record high of 12.0%.

The county’s latest unemployment figures are lower than all of the neighboring localities surrounding it, including the counties of Bland, Pulaski, Smyth, Carroll and Grayson.

In addition to boasting of the lowest unemployment rate among its neighbors, the county’s jobless rate is also the second lowest in all of Southwest Virginia, falling just short of Montgomery County, home of Virginia Tech.

The county’s economic development officials credit the downward trend in jobless claims to the proactive effort local leaders have made over the past decade in making the county as job-friendly as possible.

East Wytheville’s Board of Supervisors representative Steve Willis, who also serves as Vice President of Operations for Camrett Logistics, says his company has hired 15 new workers since the first of the year.

“The economy is picking up across the nation and Wythe County has the groundwork already in place to incentivize business owners to put people back to work,” stated Willis.

Much of that groundwork is a result of the county’s relationship with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, which recently approved Wythe County’s request to renew and expand the county’s enterprise zones – Virginia Enterprise Zones allow partnership opportunities between state and local governments that encourage job creation and private investment through special incentives and grants for businesses wishing to expand their operation in the Commonwealth.

Joe Hale, who serves as chairperson for the county’s Economic Development Committee, believes that not only is the county’s fresh economic data a testimony to the job-friendly policies of the county, but can also be attributed to the massive infrastructure projects the county has spearheaded over the past two decades.

April’s good economic news comes on the heels of a December 2014 announcement that Coperion Corporation, in collaboration with a local real estate developer, will invest a total of more than $3 million to expand its manufacturing operation in Fairview Industrial Park, located in Wythe County.

Work has already commenced at the site and when finished, the project is estimated to create 22 additional jobs for the community.

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