Officials announced plans last Thursday for a new Health Management Regional Service Center that will employ 500 workers.

The new service center will generate more than $21 million in gross annual compensation, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates is the parent company of Sparks Health System in Fort Smith and Summit Medical Center in Van Buren.

"Health Management is consistently looking for ways to improve our patients’ experience and we are proud to continue our investment in the Fort Smith region with the development of this new regional service center," said Kerry Gillespie, executive vice president at Health Management. "We are excited to create additional jobs in the Fort Smith area and reinforce our continued commitment to the economic growth of this community."

The service center will serve 27 Health Management hospitals with functions such as billing, insurance verification, scheduling and collections as well as other shared services.

The center will be located at the site of the former Phoenix Village Mall and will occupy about 90,000 square feet, officials said. The property is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in early July.

"Fort Smith’s experienced work force has been tested by tough economic news, but the arrival of Health Management is just the latest step in its revival," Gov. Mike Beebe said in an AEDC statement. "Today we celebrate Health Management’s investment of 500 jobs in Sebastian County, creating new opportunities for Arkansans ready to work."