New jobs, better healthcare celebrated in Hazard and Perry County

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HAZARD, Ky. — U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers joined state and local officials in Hazard on Tuesday to celebrate job growth, infrastructure improvements and expanded access to specialized care for cancer patients.

Hazard Community and Technical College hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration for its newest tenant in the Digital Careers Now hub for high-tech workforce training. General Dynamics, a global aerospace and defense company, will occupy the new hub to employ and train 42 people who will operate a call center for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

"Their work for USCIS will be vital to national security, as the number of pending applications for citizenship has more than doubled over the past four and a half years, generating a backlog of cases," said Rogers, who also serves as Principal Officer for Shaping Our Appalachian Region, inc. (SOAR). "Now, folks right here in Hazard will be on the frontlines, taking calls and answering questions about citizenship and immigration."

Congressman Rogers was also a keynote speaker during the grand opening of the new Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Cancer Center in Hazard.

"There is no place better suited for a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to cancer patients, than right here in the heart of Kentucky’s Appalachian Region where our people suffer from cancer death rates that are 35% higher than the rest of the nation," said Rogers, who continues to advocate for more federal funding to battle cancer and assist patients. "It’s the moments of extreme illness in between treatments, and the on-going battle with depression and fear that can be overwhelming to cancer patients and families. A building won’t change that, but the heart of these doctors and nurses can. Now, they will be right here in mountains, rather than hours away – and that makes an impact on the entire family."

The Alzheimer's Association of Kentucky and Bluegrass Care Navigators also hosted a reception at the Paul E. Patton East Kentucky Veterans Center to thank Congressman Rogers for supporting federal legislation and appropriations for Alzheimer's-related issues.

"I appreciate your kindness, but it takes all of us working together to support families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease," said Rogers. "Kentucky lost over 1,700 individuals to Alzheimer’s disease in 2017 – nearly 50% higher than the number lost in 2005 – and high enough to put it in the Centers for Disease Control’s second highest death rate tier, nationally."

Governor Bevin, who also serves as a Principal Officer of SOAR, joined Congressman Rogers at the Coal Fields Regional Industrial Park to break ground on a new natural gas line for prospective businesses. Bevin and Rogers recently announced a $900,000 Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot grant for the project, which has also been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the Economic Development Administration, with a local match from the City of Hazard totaling $32,000.

"We have to let the world know that we have the best workforce in the country! We can do everything from call center operations, to high-tech digital work, to telemedicine, to new age manufacturing," said Rogers. "I want to applaud local leaders for the visionary work that is ramping up in Hazard. Preparing this industrial site for growth is a big step forward. Access to utilities and broadband is critical for businesses to locate in our industrial parks."

Rogers presented Mike Miller with a Congressional Record tribute during the event to commemorate his recent retirement after dedicating nearly 20 years as Executive Director of the Kentucky River Area Development District.

"Mike is the type of leader who gets things done and doesn’t care who gets the credit. He sometimes leads quietly, but always effectively. As the former Mayor of Jackson and a former business owner, Mike understands, first-hand, the challenges that we face in our rural communities, but he has always pressed on and stood strong for this region," said Rogers.