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Kindred Healthcare announced today that it is planning a major expansion of its corporate headquarters in downtown Louisville, which is expected to create 500 new full-time jobs.

Kindred plans to construct a six-story, 142,000-square-foot building next to its corporate headquarters on South Fourth Street near Theater Square, which will house their new support center operations, a national training center, Kindred University and an employee wellness clinic. Construction will begin soon and is to be completed by 2017.

At the project’s unveiling today in Theater Square, Gov. Steve Beshear said the expansion shows that Kentucky has become “the center of the health care universe.”

photo 1 (5)“This is a tremendous day for Kentucky and for Louisville,” said Beshear. “We’re happy to see Kindred continue to expand its footprint here in the commonwealth with the creation of 500 full-time jobs. Kentucky is becoming the critical hub for the health care industry, and Kindred’s continuing success is a big reason why.”

The new headquarters — which Insider Louisville first got word of this summer — comes on the heels of Kindred acquiring Atlanta-based Gentiva Health Services in October, which will make it the fourth-largest health care employer in Kentucky.

After the announcement, Beshear told Insider Louisville that these new jobs are partly attributable to the health care reform law that he has championed in Kentucky through his implementation of the state health care exchange, Kynect.

“Part of it is obviously attributable to health care reform, because you’re going to have more patients who are able to pay for their care,” said Beshear. “So companies like Kindred will do even better, because their amount of uncompensated care that they will deal with will go down. And therefore their bottom line goes up and therefore they can do more and expand more and employ more people.”

At the announcement, Mayor Greg Fischer noted that Louisville now has the largest collection of headquarters in nursing home, rehabilitation, assisted living and home health administration.

Kindred has received preliminary approval for up to $11 million in tax incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, allowing it to receive tax credits and rebates.