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CARBONDALE — In what could be a boon to Southern Illinois, an insurance call center nears completion of new office space in University Mall in Carbondale.

Steve Mitchell, Carbondale’s economic director, said he has been in communication for the last year with multinational corporation Centene, whose Illinois division Mitchell said handles the Illinois portion of Medicaid and Medicare.

Mitchell said Centene has leased about 80,000 square feet of space where the long-shuttered K’s Merchandise was at the University Mall.

“It’s huge,” Mitchell said of the potential impact.

He said there has not been an official number released on how many jobs the space could bring, but noted that the space could accommodate more than 400 people. However, said this is what a high end could be. He reiterated that he is not sure how many jobs the business will create. He said it is speculated to be a 24/7 facility.

What he does know, though, is Centene’s reputation nationally.

“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. He said no numbers have been released for the Carbondale call center.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is not just to Carbondale but the surrounding region,” Mitchell said. If the benefits and pay are right, Mitchell anticipated that the call center could draw from the surrounding 30-mile radius.

“We anticipate a high demand for those positions,” he said.

Though the building is expected to be completed around the first of the year, Mitchell said he is not sure when facility will be up and running.

Representatives from the mall and Centene could not be reached for comment.

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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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