By Katie Sobiech
If you are an employer looking for dedicated employees, look no further.
Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board (Summit DD) not only has their own microenterprise program, but an integrative program as well, helping build the bridge between their clients and the work force.
“When you hire someone from our program, you are getting a bunch of customers because everybody who knows that person will start shopping in your store,” Michael R. Jacobs, Community Employment Manager, said.
“If you go to shop at ACME or somewhere where there is someone working with a disability, customers come in and call them by their first name and will talk to them. They’re not doing that with the so-called typical person that is there. They’ve got that relationship and it’s a win-win situation,” he continued.
Their programs include “Job Jet”, which provides job experience and training, and their “enclaves” or group employment.
Job Jet is a unique program in that it provides job experience and training for individuals who don’t yet have any experience in the work place.
“It’s more youth – people who’ve just graduated from high school. We have contracts through Weaver Industries and we have employers throughout the county,” Jacobs explained.
This includes anything from clerical work, to janitorial work, to working on an assembly line.
Being a transitional program, ideally a person will be in it for 2 years.
And through the process they plan to be offered different types of work, to get a feel for different things.
“We’re trying to find the best fit for the individual,” Jacobs said.
Another aspect of their employment offerings are what they call “enclaves”, or group employment.
“Normally we have contracts with companies on things that they might outsource, or that would be done in the plant, but it’s more cost effective to bring a team of our people in,” Jacobs explained.
This makes it possible for Summit DD to send in a team of people to companies for jobs that require a group to get things done quickly.
Summit DD even takes it further, sending in a job coach initially to work alongside the individual(s) teaching them their job.
“Normally it’s 40 hours – but we don’t disappear. From that point forward the employer can call us and we can send someone out at no cost to the employer at all,” Jacobs explained.
“Normally we’ll make 1-2 visits a month to talk to the individuals. If they have issues we’ll talk to the employer,” Jacobs said.
Successful Work Programs
As of right now they have 150 people across Summit County who are working independently.
“Some of them you wouldn’t even know they had a disability,” Jacobs said.
And on average their employers work 10 years at the same job.
“A lot are in the food service industry. And the turnover there, you’re lucky if you get someone 2-3 years. It’s because they’ve found a niche, they feel like they’re appreciated. The employer has given them a good environment to work in,” Jacobs explained.
Working with Local Businesses
They currently have a contract with Little Tykes and are hoping to partner with other businesses.
There are many benefits that come along with working with Summit DD.
If you are an employer and interested in adding to your team, please contact Michael Jacobs at (330) 634-8144.
For more info. on Summit DD, please visit http://www.summitdd.org .