Florida Chamber Series on Free Enterprise PodcastsInternship Program Video Series

Karen Pieters: “If you can broaden the vision of what you are looking for and who can be a great employee for you- that helps everyone.”


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According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s recent unemployment report, there are more than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 65. Of the 1.13 million, 700,000 people with disabilities are not currently in Florida’s workforce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program seeks to help close the talent gap by connecting businesses with workforce needs to valuable talent.

Crystal River Main Street is one of the 10 businesses who were selected to take part in this pilot program.

“The internship program worked out absolutely phenomenally for us,” said KAREN PIETERS, CEO, Crystal River Main Street. “Being that we are a nonprofit, and being able to be reimbursed for the salary made a huge difference in our ability to do that.”

For businesses looking to meet workforce needs, Pieters recommends widening the scope of where you look for talent.

“It’s an entire segment of the population that actually has abilities, and can be employed, and is perhaps overlooked that winds up having to be on assistance and then therefore, are not able to be your customers and are not able to participate in the economy when they actually have the ability to do so, said PIETERS.”

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