LAKE PROVIDENCE -- It's been slapped with several titles in its time.
"The poorest city in America."
"The most unequal place in America."
To its people, it's home, and they said Lake Providence, Louisiana needs help.
"Right down the street, people are living in poverty and there has to be something that I can do about it," said the CEO of Avercom Virtual Solutions, Nielle Bush.
"I've got to tell you, they're ready for some action and I am too," said Lake Providence Mayor, Robert Amacker.
Now, the Monroe company Avercom Virtual Solutions is trying to turn a portion of the old Lake Providence Community Center into a customer call center for multiple companies.
"We have AT&T. We have Sprint. We also have Triple A. We have Rogers, which is a company out of Canada," Bush said.
With that center comes the promise of hundreds of jobs and it's closer to fact than fiction.
Folks in Lake Providence are already seeing work.
"Maybe 500 people came out and at least 300 or so of them were qualified," said Bush. "This first class is going to start with 30 and then we're going to hire in rounds 30-50 and so every three weeks, we'll start a new training class."
It may not look like much now, but when the center opens in March, Bush said it will create 300 new jobs within two years, jobs Mayor Amacker said are needed.
"It's like a Godsend. I don't even know how else to say it," he said. "Our population's 3,391. You're talking about 10% of the population. That's like going to New York City and creating 800,000 jobs in two years."
Avercom claims all of those jobs will generate an annual payroll of more than $6 million, money in the pockets of the people.
The company's leaders also said they want local companies to take advantage of the call center too.
"These businesses around here that need this service, we should be putting the money into Lake Providence, putting the money into those people's pockets," said Bush.
While Lake Providence still has plenty of obstacles and negative stigma to overcome, Mayor Amacker said this is just the step they need in the right direction.
"That's an example of how the Lord can take something bad and turn it into something good and I think that's what's happening," he said. "I'm waiting. I'm waiting for it to get started."
Bush said the first round of employee training begins next Monday and the grand opening of the center will be in March.
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