HAZARD, Ky. — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded nearly $100,000 in Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) funds for the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program’s (EKCEP) Teleworks USA initiative that will support the agency’s longstanding mission to connect even more Eastern Kentuckians with job opportunities in the digital economy.
These funds will be used to create two new manager positions within Teleworks USA, including a full-time Hub Manager at the Lawrence County Teleworks Hub and a Teleworks USA Outreach Manager who will serve potential teleworkers in at least three additional counties where a Hub does not yet exist.
“We are extremely excited to have received this grant, and we’re also grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for their continued support of Teleworks USA and our mission to provide new opportunities for workers in Eastern Kentucky to participate in the digital economy,” said Michael Cornett, EKCEP director of agency expansion and Teleworks USA. “This is our second USDA grant to date, and these new funds will be instrumental in allowing Teleworks USA to reach into counties where we don’t currently have a footprint.”
Thanks to the new USDA RBDG grant funds, the Lawrence County Teleworks Hub Manager will be able to serve residents of Lawrence County full time at the Hub, located at 180 Bulldog Lane in Louisa. The manager will also conduct regular outreach visits in neighboring Carter and Elliott Counties at offices of project partner Northeast Kentucky Community Action Agency. In those areas, the Outreach Manager will deliver accelerated digital-economy workshops, host job fairs and hiring events, and recruit people to the Lawrence County Teleworks Hub for scheduled workshops.
The Teleworks USA Outreach Manager will mainly work to serve citizens in Menifee, Morgan, and Wolfe counties in a similar manner through scheduled, ongoing outreach visits at local offices of project partners Gateway Community Action Agency and Wolfe County Fiscal Court.
“Being able to add an Outreach Manager to our Teleworks USA roster is a very exciting prospect,” Cornett said. “We know there is demand outside of the eight Hub counties for the services Teleworks USA provides, and now we’ll be able to bring Teleworks USA to some of those areas when possible, and show citizens there that we, indeed, can and will be able to serve them even if the nearest Hub is just a county over.”
Both new positions are expected to be filled by early October.
Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work job opportunities with multiple national and global companies. The agency operates Teleworks Hubs in eight Eastern Kentucky counties, which provide on-site services, customized prep workshops, and telework job-placement opportunities to prospective teleworkers.
The USDA awarded Teleworks USA its first $100,000 RBDG in 2017, which supported the creation, opening, and operation of the Lawrence County Teleworks Hub throughout its first year. Additional project partners included the Lawrence County Fiscal Court, Northeast Kentucky Community Action Agency, Kentucky Power, Lycom Communications, Foothills Communications, Louisa Rotary Club, Sullivan University, State Farm Insurance, Walmart, Inez Deposit Bank, Quality Metal New Energy Resources, and Best Western.
In the Hub’s first year, Teleworks USA helped place 69 citizens in remote, work-at-home jobs, resulting in a potential, estimated $1.5 million in new annual wages pending job retention.
The Lawrence County Fiscal Court also provided in-kind support and funding for Teleworks USA’s new USDA grant and project through the ongoing use of space in the Lawrence County Community Center for the Teleworks Hub, and high-speed broadband access in the Hub via Lycom Communications. Further, both Lycom Communications and Foothills Communications have provided discounts for at-home broadband service to new Lawrence County teleworkers who have graduated from Teleworks USA’s workshops.
“The great thing about Teleworks USA is that we’re helping connect people with employers that are not located here in Eastern Kentucky,” Cornett added. “These are outside wages coming into our region, and this is going to benefit our local economies because we know the bulk of these new wages earned by teleworkers here in Eastern Kentucky are going to be spent locally, as well.”
To find out more about Teleworks USA or your nearest Teleworks Hub, visit www.teleworksusa.com.