BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Governor Mike Beebe along with Department of Human Services Director John Selig and other dignitaries and guests celebrated the opening of the DHS Processing Center today in Batesville.
The center's function will be to review and process applications and re-newels for public assistance. When fully up to speed, the center will be processing about 30,000 applications per month.
State Facility Director Joni Jones said this center moves the application process into the nearly paperless realm and will introduce a new program for applicants across the state.
Jones, "One of the other big announcements today is about Arkansas Access.gov. Our new website where people can come in and place an online application for our services." Jones went on to say that it will save a lot of waiting for potential clients. "It allows them to see what kind of services are available in the department. They can pre-screen themselves to see if they might be eligible for assistance and then they can place an on-line application."
Governor Mike Beebe says this facility has both a good and bad side—jobs are getting moved from county DHS offices to make state more efficient rather than new jobs being created.
"They're moved from two or three here, four or five there or whatever, to a hundred here."
Beebe went on to say that 35 communities submitted 75 proposals for this facility with Batesville being the winner.
"It shows how a community can really come together." Beebe said. Independence County established an Economic Development tax in 2008. This money has been used to bring about 250 new jobs to the area so far.
DHS Director John Selig says the numbers indicate how important this new facility really is.
Selig, "We will serve well over a million Arkansans this year and that doesn't count anybody twice. In fact we have seen over the last 10 years we are serving about 700 Thousand more people each year than we did ten years ago."