HAZARD, KY -- U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) joined the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) in Hazard, Kentucky to announce the expansion of Kentucky Teleworks and to commend the organization for working with Community Action Agencies across the region to assist laid-off coal miners with career advising, furthering their education and finding quality employment through the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) Program.
"Kentucky has lost 5,700 coal mining jobs in the last 18 months, devastating the industry that has been a key economic engine for our rural region," said Rogers. "I am always thrilled to talk about job creation and company expansions, but now more than ever before, economic development is vital to our coal mining families who are struggling to find comparable salaries. I'm especially proud of the HOME Program and our Community Action Agencies that are working around the clock to assist our coal mining families."
The H.O.M.E. Program offers to pay employers 75% of a former coal miner's salary during on-the-job training for a new career. Since December 2012, the program has assisted more than 1,000 coal miners and their spouses find a job or gain access to career training or post-secondary education, according to EKCEP officials. Rogers commended Bridgett Back for her tireless efforts to recruit employers and assist coal miners at the L.K.L.P. Community Action Agency.
Rogers also announced the expansion of EKCEP's Kentucky Teleworks program. The program works with national and global companies to provide customer service assistance from anywhere in the world, including your own home. Anyone with the required phone and internet services are eligible to apply for a pool of 1,000 jobs through Kentucky Teleworks. For individuals without the required phone and internet services, EKCEP created a hub at its Hazard headquarters where employees have access to the tools they need. After the event, officials participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the Hazard hub for Kentucky Teleworks.
"Kentucky Teleworks is the newest resident of Silicon Holler," said Rogers. "The program has been so successful, EKCEP announced it will be opening an additional hub in Jackson County, in partnership with Jackson Energy and the Appalachian Regional Commission. These jobs remove travel restrictions and thanks to the EKCEP hubs, individuals will not be hampered by the lack of technology in their homes."
EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead said both initiatives fall perfectly in line with Rogers' vision for Eastern Kentucky's future.
"We truly can have it all. We can have our mountains and our coal mining, and new job opportunities," Whitehead said. "And now, thanks to 21st century technology, when it comes to economic development and bringing jobs to our region, we're as flat as Iowa."
During the event, Rogers recognized local efforts in partnership with the UNITE and PRIDE programs. This year, UNITE kicked off a scholarship program for high school seniors across the region who are active UNITE Club members and display leadership qualities at school and in the community. Nineteen high school seniors are receiving a $1,500 scholarship this year. Rogers applauded four of the local scholarship recipients, Jalon Morgan from Leslie County High School and three students from Knott County Central High School, Brian Catron, Kennedy King and Avery Shrum.
Rogers also commended several PRIDE volunteers for their efforts in this year's PRIDE Spring Cleanup Campaign. Rogers presented Outstanding Volunteer Recruitment Certificates to Roger Hicks from Knott County, Barry Spivey from Jackson County, Angie Muncy from Leslie County, Gary Cornett from Letcher County, and Rosa Couch from Perry County. Together, they recruited a total of 2,745 volunteers for the month of April.
Additionally, Rogers presented Ashley Bowman a "Difference Maker" award for recruiting 2,000 volunteers in Wolfe County this year and his diligent efforts to raise awareness about the importance of recycling.
Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information visit www.halrogers.house.gov.