Community leaders from across Lawrence County gathered together on Friday, October 6 at the new Lawrence County Teleworks USA Hub to celebrate its grand opening and learn exactly what doors the initiative was opening for the area’s residents.
“This makes the eighth hub we’ve opened in the state in less than five years,” Teleworks USA Operations Manager Betty Hays said at the event. “It’s wild to think we’ve expanded so much so quickly, but what we bring to these communities is opportunities for employment that they just can’t get anywhere else, and that’s what people are wanting—needing, really.”
The Hub, located within the Lawrence County Community Center at 180 Bulldog Lane in Louisa, offers 30 fully equipped terminals for prospective teleworkers to complete Teleworks USA’s customer service and digital literacy workshops.
“Now, the people of Lawrence County and the surrounding area will have a leg up on other people applying for these teleworking positions. Having the Hub here absolutely puts these people at an advantage in this digital economy,” Hays continued.
An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work, distance learning opportunities, and helps to prepare people for the jobs in the digital economy, working with them on creating résumés and developing superior interviewing skills, then applying for and obtaining legitimate work-from-home positions through its website, www.teleworksusa.com.
EKCEP Director of Agency Expansion Michael Cornett spoke at the event, explaining that since 2015, Teleworks USA has helped connect more than 1,100 people in Eastern Kentucky with new jobs, creating an estimated $23 million economic impact in annual wages to teleworkers in Hub communities in Harlan, Jackson, Lee, Leslie, Perry, Pike, and Owsley counties.
“This Hub hasn’t even been open a full month, and already we have 11 jobs from it that weren’t a possibility before we opened our doors,” Cornett said to the audience of nearly 50 people on Friday.
“There is literally no end to the demand in the kinds of jobs that are created here,” he added.
Using an existing resource to create jobs is not a new concept for the region, Catrina Vargo, economic development coordinator for the Lawrence County Fiscal Court, said. With more than 90 percent of the county having quality broadband internet access, it wouldn’t make sense to not bring in an prospect like Teleworks USA.
“To take our broadband technology we already have and turn it into jobs is huge. It’s a never-ending supply of jobs, actually, and it’s pretty exciting,” Vargo said. “Teleworks USA enables people to work from their homes. You’re no longer going to the jobs—they’re coming to you.”
Cornett explained that even though these may not be the traditional brick-and-mortar type of jobs people are used to, with companies physically moving into the region, the impact is still the same—if not greater—on the area.
“The point is, these teleworkers are getting paid livable wages, and their money—even if it comes from another state—is being spent right here in Lawrence County. They’re going to this Walmart, this gas station, this restaurant, and not some other city’s businesses because they don’t have to move away to get paid these kinds of wages now,” he said.
Much time and preparation went into getting the Hub opened, Cornett added.
“Lots of things matter when taking on something like this, and clearly something that matters a lot is the partnerships it takes to make our hubs a reality,” Cornett said.
It was through partnerships between EKCEP, Teleworks USA, the Lawrence County Fiscal Court, and the Northeast Kentucky Community Action Agency that made the Hub opening possible.
Grants through the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and Kentucky Power also went into the opening, with additional contributions from local businesses and organizations, including: Lycom Communications, Foothills Communications, Louisa Rotary Club, Sullivan University, State Farm Insurance, Walmart, Inez Deposit Bank, Quality Metal New Energy Resources, and Best Western.
The Lawrence County Teleworks Hub will host new workshops every other month, with the next session set to begin November 6. Prospective teleworkers who complete the workshops will receive four separate certifications, assistance with their résumés and interviewing skills, as well as anything else needed to land gainful work-from-home or work-from-Hub employment with one of the many national and global companies that work with Teleworks USA.
Seating for the workshops is limited, so interested jobseekers in Lawrence and surrounding counties should contact Bridget James with the Northeast Kentucky Community Action Agency at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (606) 638-4949.