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CARBONDALE — A ribbon cutting this month has opened the way for nearly 400 new jobs to come to Carbondale.

Announced last year, the Centene and IlliniCare Health call center has completed work on its 80,000-square-foot facility in the old K’s Merchandise stall at the University Mall. The announcement last year had city officials excited.

“It’s huge,” Steve Mitchell, Carbondale’s economic director, said last year.

He said based on the city’s research, the company is said to treat employees very well.

“It is our understanding that the company has an excellent reputation of treating its employees very well,” he said, adding that national averages for hourly pay was between $12 and $14.

A media representative from Centene wasn’t able to provide specifics about the pay scale and benefit offerings for the new jobs.

“IlliniCare Health offers a generous compensation package that is comparable to similar industry jobs in the region,” a company spokesman wrote in an email Friday. “We know we must attract and retain the highest-quality talent in the healthcare industry to best serve our members, and our employment benefits reflect that.”

The representative also said that about 80 percent of the 350 jobs created by the call center will be full-time, with the opportunity for the rest to be flexible part-time jobs. The representative also said Centene is working with Southern Illinois University and other local colleges to establish summer internship opportunities for 2019.

When asked how many of the new positions will be going to people already employed by Centene, who would relocate to Carbondale, the representative said “Centene and IlliniCare Health believe in hiring local employees to work in the call center and the service center to best serve local residents of southern Illinois.”

350 is a lot of new hires to fill. The Centene representative said the process began last fall. He said they currently have 50 positions filled.

“We currently have 50 full-time employees on board, with the goal to bring on up to 50 new staff members each month until we are fully staffed,” he wrote.

The Centene center is the second such call center to come in recent months to Southern Illinois. In a similar effort to fill space in its mall, the City of West Frankfort brought in a health care call center to its city-owned mall.

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isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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Reporter

Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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