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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Monday that the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program will receive a $1.75 mi…

The good news is there are plenty of jobs available for people who are willing to work. The bad news is that employers in Kentucky are experiencing a lack of people who can fill the open positions.

The Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center published a slew of statistics that explain the state’s current workforce position. Their research shows that more than 81 percent of Kentucky businesses are planning to expand in the next three to five years and that 80 percent of those businesses say they can’t fill those positions. Kentucky also has a low workforce participation rate, meaning the available people who are eligible to work and do, is lower than average.  

U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers and Gov. Matt Bevin announced Tuesday a grant by the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement (OSMRE) through the 2017 Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot program that will create jobs in Eastern Kentucky, according to a statement from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The City of Hazard has been given preliminary approval for a $900,000 AML grant that will bring a natural gas pipeline from a wellhead in the central Perry County area to the Coalfields Regional Industrial Park. the statement said. The addition of natural gas to the industrial park, according to the statement, will attract jobs to a region that has been adversely impacted by changes in the coal economy.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s office announced this week that 40 new jobs will be coming to Hazard.

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 the statement.

“The announcement of WellCare’s new Care Center in Hazard is exciting news for the commonwealth on multiple fronts,” Bevin said in the statement. “The company’s economic investment in Southeast Kentucky will create 40 excellent jobs for the region, and will provide direct support for our innovative new Kentucky HEALTH waiver. WellCare specialists will be on the front lines of connecting Medicaid recipients to community engagement opportunities and improved health outcomes.” 

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.

When EnerBlu Inc. opens its facility in Pikeville, a projected 875 jobs paying an average of $39 an hour will be approximately 60 miles down the road. This should be exciting news for the entire region. However, EnerBlu’s announcement gave some of the people living in the Hazard area the blues.