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Centene to bring new claims center to Ferguson

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FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — After weeks of unrest, Ferguson is getting a boost with the announcement that the managed care firm Centene Corp. plans a new processing center that will add up to 200 jobs in the suburban St. Louis town.

Ferguson has been the site of several protests, some violent, in the weeks since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. A state grand jury and the Justice Department are investigating the shooting.

"This is the right thing to do for the community, state and our shareholders," Centene's chief executive officer and chairman, Michael Neidorff, said in a statement Tuesday. "It is time for action not talk."

The company said getting a development this size started typically takes up to 18 months, but it is expediting the process and hopes to open the center in 2015. A specific site has not been selected.

Job applications will be accepted before the end of 2014, though a date has not been set. Centene said it is searching for a temporary site for training and development.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, said his administration is partnering with St. Louis Community College to provide job training resources through the Missouri Works Training program.

"This investment is an important step forward for Ferguson and the entire region, and I'm pleased my administration could help make it a reality," Nixon said in a statement.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development said Centene could receive up to $575,000 of state incentives if it meets job-creation and investment criteria.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, also weighed in, saying: "This important development will be a stabilizing lifeline for the many small businesses that were affected in Ferguson due to the unrest last month."

Centene, a St. Louis-based Fortune 500 company, has more than 11,000 workers in 20 states, including more than 2,000 in Missouri. The new center will process claims from its Missouri-based State Health Plan, as well as overflow from other states.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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