Perry County can succeed, and WellCare announcement is an opportunity to prove it

This community and this region have been written off more times that we can even count. The obituary of Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia has been trumpeted by the national media and commentators for years.

But, we keep flipping the script. We keep proving them wrong. And all we’re asking for is a fighting chance.

It was announced this week by Gov. Matt Bevin that 40 new jobs are coming to Hazard as WellCare of Kentucky Inc., a managed care provider for Medicaid recipients, will establish a 40-job outbound call facility called a Care Center in Hazard to help members navigate upcoming changes under Kentucky HEALTH, Bevin’s office announced in a statement.

WellCare will begin recruiting June 26, with a job fair at the Kentucky Career Center in Hazard. Additionally, the company will recruit from addiction recovery centers to support people rebuilding their lives after treatment. Jobs will pay an average salary exceeding the $31,578 Perry County median household income, the statement said. The company plans to expand and remodel its Hazard office for the Care Center.

The past barriers to our economic success are rapidly falling thanks to the enhanced communication possibilities of the Internet age. This is an example.

WellCare of Kentucky has offices in both Lexington and Louisville and there’s little to no doubt that the company could easily have found both a place in which it could locate, as well as a potential employee base from which to recruit in those communities.

But they’ve decided to bring the Care Center here and help contribute to the economic rebound that we, and other leaders believe, is just right around the corner.

What we need is just a chance, an opportunity. WellCare is offering us that chance, that opportunity to prove what we can do.

Is WellCare the answer to all our issues? No. Is one single company or industry going to relieve all our woes? No.

What it proves is that a company like WellCare has enough faith that it can find the employees it needs in this community that it’s comfortable in growing here. 

It sends a message to other potential employers that despite what’s been said by those who have little to no connection to the area, we’re absolutely open for business and ready to support industry growth.

It’s up to our leaders, both in the government and in business, to carry that message to those outside who are looking in on this announcement and will be watching to see whether we can follow through on the opportunity offered.

And it’s up to us as a community to support the business, to support its employees and to ensure that not only does this business succeed, but that those watching see that, as well.

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