I wanted to bring attention and give kudos to Supervisor Mary Piepho for questioning staff about placing a state insurance call center in Richmond of all places.
According to Lisa Vorderbrueggen at the Contra Costa Times, California has chosen Contra Costa County to host a regional call center for the state’s new health insurance exchange. But Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho of Discovery Bay on Tuesday questioned staff’s preliminary selection of a Richmond site for the new center, which will bring 200 jobs. The location was not disclosed pending negotiations.
Piepho was adamant that this policy decision is for the board, not a single member of the Board or staff. She is 100% correct.
So now that we know there is a for sure call center available somewhere in Contra Costa County and 200 jobs at stake, it’s time for our local leaders to begin working on a plan to ensure that it doesn’t go to Richmond, but instead to East County—either Antioch of Brentwood. I would love for it to be Oakley, but we just do not have the facilities readily available. Pittsburg would also make sense.
It should be noted that quick turnaround is needed. Under the state contract, the county must have the building leased and internal improvements completed by April, operating testing underway by July and open to the public on Oct. 1.
Staff claims Richmond was chosen for West County’s high unemployment, however, East County is also in need of jobs and reducing Highway 4 congestion. Plus, 200 jobs would be huge for the area and the local economy especially when visitors from around the state may come in for a visit.
Supervisor Piepho has done her job, now it’s time to get our mayors, council members, and city managers involved to ensure this center is placed somewhere in East County all in the name of local jobs.
This would be a win for our region.
Here is a PDF of the “Notice of Intent to Award California Health Benefit Exchange” from January 18, 2013.
According to the Turlock Journal, the State of California expects to operate three Health Benefit Exchange Call Centers in California – one in Sacramento, a state-run center somewhere else, and one “hybrid” county-run facility.
While I am unsure of Contra Costa County’s bid, according to the Modesto Bee, Stanislaus proposed to run the 40,000-square-foot center for $65 million to $70 million over three years, using federal and state money to get the center up and running. It was estimated to create 250-300 jobs in Stanislaus County.
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