DILLON, SC (WBTW) – More than half a million dollars in grant money is being used to help people across South Carolina get to work. A portion of the money will be used in the Pee Dee, helping people get to their jobs with major employers in different counties.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce and the State Workforce Development Board gave $600,000 in grants to six areas in the state to implement or expand existing public transportation to give people more direct access to work and job training sites.

One of the six regions chosen is the Pee Dee Workforce Development Area, which includes Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion and Marlboro counties. The project is titled Workforce Connector and will offer a new weekday commuter bus service originating in Marion County and making stops in the town of Latta and in Dillon County to get workers to major employers like Harbor Freight Tools, Wix Filters and Perdue Farms.

“Unfortunately not everybody is blessed with having enough sets of car keys on the counter to get to a job so, for those that are willing and able and dependable workers, and there are certainly thousands of those in the area, we are trying to connect them with an opportunity so they won’t have to worry about the transportation issue,” explains Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Charles MacNeil.

The grant money will fund the workforce connecter project for 18 months. Pee Dee expects to serve 50 commuters per day during that time. After that time period, organizers of the project and leaders with the state department of unemployment will evaluate the value of the project and if it should be extended.

“We have to work with the participants in this project,” says MacNeil. “By and large those are the major employers in Dillon County, and the other stakeholders to try to see how we can develop a service that stands the best chance to be successful. In other words – getting the most people on the vehicle and getting them to these jobs in Dillon County.”

PDRTA has 45 days to structure and implement the new bus routes.