Connecting Individuals with Disabilities to Success through Employment and Entrepreneurship

Connecting Individuals with Disabilities to Success through Employment and Entrepreneurship

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “Because We Are Equal to the Task”.  Iowa’s economy continues to improve and businesses carry on efforts to find qualified workers to meet their needs.  With the “number of hats” worn by the small business owner, finding the right person for your team is especially challenging.  An untapped resource often overlooked, is the workforce that includes individuals with disabilities.

On October 17th the Governor’s Forum on “Empowering Individuals with Disabilities through Employment” is being co-hosted by Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds and Senator Harkin.  This is a great opportunity to hear from Iowa businesses on their workforce strategies and value gained in employing individuals with disabilities.  Organizations representing a wide variety of Iowa employment related services and resources for individuals with disabilities and also for businesses will be present.

The forum will also focus on entrepreneurship.  The journey from gaining the skills needed to plan and start and expand a business to where it now brings sustainable economic value to the community will be highlighted. Two Iowa based entrepreneurs will share their business startup and expansion success stories.

An entrepreneur from northwest Iowa will share how he started Shoot Shop, a recreational business providing indoor archery and intricate gunsmith work.  He will discuss how his business continues to expand and how his business ownership objectives were facilitated through service from the Iowa Department for the Blind along with collaborative self-employment available through the Iowa Self-Employment Program.

An entrepreneur hailing from northeast Iowa will articulate his experience as a disabled vet who following active duty in Afghanistan,  parlayed a treasured family recipe into Young G’s Barbeque Sauce, an all-natural product sold in Iowa grocery stores and on the East coast.  Collaborative partnerships with the Department of Veteran Affairs and other agencies helped leverage his business ownership dream.

Join the conversation on empowering persons with disabilities through employment and entrepreneurship by attending the Forum!

If you are a small business get connected to the Employer Disability Resource Network (EDRN), a public-private partnership responding to questions, concerns, and strategies as it relates to employment and disability.  The EDRN is your resource to get answers.

Content Contributed by David Mitchell, Administrator for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services

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