|Aurora competing for HHS customer service center|
Aurora is one of several Nebraska communities competing to be among the sites for new state customer service centers that will handle applications for food stamps, Medicaid and other welfare services.
Applications were due to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services last week, according to a state website.
"I think Aurora’s geographic location makes us a great fit to be one of the next HHS customer service centers," said Christian Evans, executive director of the Aurora Area Chamber & Development Corp.
The state announced last fall that it would open three to six call centers across the state to handle welfare applications and reduce the state’s nearly 900-member economics-assistance workforce by about 25 percent. State officials indicated at that time that they hoped the 250 job cuts could be achieved through retirement and attrition.
Customer service centers could range in size from 50 to 200 employees and would handle an estimated 260,000 calls a month. Aurora submitted proposals for 50, 75 and 100 employee sites.
The state expects to save about $8.5 million annually through the customer service centers and use of other new technology.
Department officials plan to visit the proposed sites across the state and eventually decide on specific call center sizes and sites. Contracts are expected to be finalized late this summer. The first center will likely open by June 2010.
Other communities listed in the field of applicants include Alliance, Atkinson, Beatrice, Columbus, Fremont, Fullerton, Geneva, Grand Island, Hastings, Lexington, Norfolk, North Platte, Omaha, Sarpy County, Scottsbluff/Gering, Seward, South Sioux City, Stuart and Wahoo.