JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi is working to boost the economy. The state could soon be paying for a portion of your salary.
Roger Harris used to be a car salesman. He got laid off about four months ago and had trouble finding a new job.
"Very difficult, especially during these times where everybody is looking for a job," Harris said.
He now works for National Collection Systems as the Business Development Manager. Harris and his new boss Lee Bush have something in common: they are both part of the Mississippi STEPS program designed to help small business owners find people like Harris to work at their company.
"While we were in the process of looking to hire we were trying to figure out where to get the money from to hire them," said President of National Collection Systems Lee Bush.
Lee decided to get connected with the Winn Job Center that was working with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. Lee found out the state would provide the first two months of a new hire's salary completely, and after six months the company takes over the full cost.
"They acted like we had won something cause they were so excited. And they said well you're the first one, Lee said.
Barbara Hicks from the Dept. of Employment Security says their goal is to get 3,500 people statewide working in jobs by the time the STEPS program ends in September.
Currently, 130 employers around the state are participating while 70 participants are enrolled and eligible for the program. And Hicks is confident they can reach their quota.
"And this number changes drastically. I want to say by the hour, but it's actually by the minute."
In a statement from Governor Haley Barbour's office he said:
"Mississippi STEPS is unique in that it's a win-win program for both employees and employers. STEPS is spurring job creation in the private sector by assisting business owners with the up front costs of hiring new workers. It enhances the economic engines of our local communities and, in turn, the state."
In order to qualify for STEPS, a person has to be over the age of 18 years old. They need to have a child living in their household that is under the age of 18 and they can't make 250 percent above the federal poverty level. For a family of three, this amount would equal about $45,775.
As for Thomas, he says he's just happy to be working doing something he loves.
" I love it, I love it," Thomas enthusiastically said while laughing.