Series on Free Enterprise: Nadine O. Vogel


Study of Employment of Floridians With a Disability


‘You will actually reap the rewards of hiring someone with a disability
– Nadine Vogel, Springboard Consulting, LLC

According to research from the Florida Chamber Foundation, there are nearly 700,000 Floridians with disabilities that are not employed and may want to be part of Florida’s workforce. The report also shows the employment rate of persons with disabilities is increasing.

In a recent Series on Free Enterprise interview, Nadine O. Vogel, CEO of Springboard Consulting LLC talks about the benefits of hiring persons with a disability and a scholarship program available through Springboard Consulting to help students with disabilities continue their education.

Springboard Consulting helps business understand what they need to do from an organizational readiness standpoint to ensure hiring persons with a disability is a success and business reaps the reward with employees that are very productive.


Click below to listen to the full interview with Nadine Vogel.


On the Concerns Businesses Express About Hiring a Person with Disabilities:

There is a lot of fear that if they bring someone with a disability on and they do this wrong – ‘If  I don’t accommodate them appropriately, we don’t engage with them appropriately — then I’m going to get in trouble,’ and sometimes avoidance is easier.

If we have a business that is consumer facing, there is the concern that the consumers will not be comfortable. They will not want to shop in their stores or purchase their products. In fact, there have been a number of studies over the year that shows just the opposite. That people feel good about it and want to shop more.

Advice to Businesses About Recruiting New Talent:

To recruit the new talent when and how it is appropriate. It starts with organizational readiness.  It doesn’t mean everything has to be perfect before you start recruiting; it does mean that you should consider all these issues.

You will actually reap the rewards of hiring someone with a disability and finding out the amazing skill sets, the commitment, everything they bring to the table.

Springboard Foundation provides two scholarship programs — a general scholarship and a named scholarship where the scholarship is awarded in that company’s name and introductions are made between the scholarship recipient and the company providing the scholarship.

For information on Springboard Consulting, visit


Todd Thomson Discusses Internship Program for Individuals with Disabilities

“We studied the Florida 2030 projections and know the challenges that our region faces in filling [the 6,000 new jobs Escambia County needs by 2030] and we absolutely believe that this type of internship program would be beneficial to our members. With the number of jobs that need to be filled, we need to find all sorts of candidates, and this type of internship program would be very important in trying to find those that are looking to fill these jobs,” said TODD THOMSON, Greater Pensacola Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs

The latest data available indicates an unemployment rate of 18.1 percent among Floridians with disabilities, nearly three times Florida’s overall unemployment rate. Smaller counties in Florida are not exempt from the problem either. Escambia County’s overall unemployment rate is holding at the same 6.3 percent as the state as a whole, but the county’s unemployment rate for disabled individuals is nearing the state average at an estimated 14.6 percent.

Todd Thomson, Vice President of Public Affairs at the Greater Escambia Chamber of Commerce, said his Chamber is looking to internship programs targeted at disabled job-seekers to help put a dent in those numbers and help the broader Escambia business community too.

“I think it’s an issue that’s not just important to our chamber, but I believe it’s an issue that’s important to the entire business community,” Thomson said. “That makes it even more important for us to provide opportunities for individuals who are looking for work and to educate businesses about these opportunities this [internship program] provides, and to try to bring that 14.6 unemployment rate down.”

Getting quantifiable results are important when determining the efficacy of the internship program, Thomson said, and direct feedback from participating businesses and organizations is perhaps the best way to tell how well the program is working.

“Surveys are one way we can measure the success…getting feedback from our partners and the other stakeholders who are involved with this process,” he said. “I think it’s just getting that data and feedback from the community to make sure we’re doing the right thing and making sure that these programs are successful.”

The Greater Pensacola Chamber has supported the Florida Chamber since 1936 and remains one of the Florida Chamber’s staunchest advocates in the Panhandle. Though Thomson is not a Florida Chamber board member, he and the rest of the Greater Pensacola Chamber have been an instrumental part of assisting the Florida Chamber’s efforts to fix the workers’ compensation issue facing state lawmakers in the upcoming Legislative Session. He said taking on workers’ comp-related problems is crucial for Escambia County and Florida as a whole.

“We’re looking at a number of important issues for the business community over here for 2017,” Thomson said. “First and foremost we’re focused on the workers compensation issue that they’ll be addressing in Tallahassee. This issue has a bottom-line impact on our local businesses and hopefully something can be done on the legislative level to fix that.

We’ll also be focusing locally on our…governments to make sure we have a good playing field for our businesses here. We feel pretty good about the way things are going here in Escambia County but we want to make sure that continues.”

Florida Chamber-Backed Education Bills Pass Full Legislature

Furthering Florida’s reputation as a leader in education, the Florida Legislature has passed several Florida Chamber-backed education bills this session.

A talented workforce is Florida’s best long-term economic strategy. By providing additional school choice options, quality teacher improvement programs, and ensuring that students can take advantage of customized learning options, the following bills will help Florida’s students continue to remain globally competitive in our 21st century economy:

  • HB 189, sponsored by Representative Manny Diaz and Senator Travis Hutson, creates an alternative, streamlined certification route for professional educators wanting to teach STEM subject courses. This new certification route allows Florida’s students greater opportunities for STEM involvement at earlier levels of learning, which will help to position Florida as a global leader in high-tech, high-wage job creation.
  • HB 837, sponsored by Representative Michael Bileca and Senator Kelli Stargel, will further a parents’ rights to choose the best education for their child. By making improvements to the John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program, more students with disabilities will be able to take advantage of additional access to high quality education programs. This bill also includes improvements to Florida’s dual enrollment program for high school students, which helps to ensure students are career and college ready.
  • HB 1365, sponsored by Representative Ray Rodrigues and Senator Jeff Brandes, creates a Competency-Based Education Pilot Program, which will allow students to advance at their own pace based on their mastery of concepts and skills. The existing one-size-fits-all system of education is struggling to consistently meet the individual needs of each student. This legislation takes a step forward in reconsidering the status quo in order to equip them for success in the 21st century.

The Florida Chamber commends the Florida Legislature for their commitment to securing Florida’s educational future.

Florida Chamber-Backed Unique Abilities Bill Passes, Heads to Governor For Signature

The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for today fully passing a Florida Chamber-backed unique abilities bill, The Gardiner Scholarship, that will empower students with intellectual disabilities to succeed by providing options for high quality education programs.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and which now heads to Governor Rick Scott for signature, increases flexibility for parents so they can provide an even more customized education plan for their children through a variety of services and therapies. It also allows more families to participate in this much-needed program by expanding eligibility requirements.

“For people with unique abilities and their families, Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts and Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Programs represent freedom from a one-size-fits-all system and the opportunity to pursue education and career choices suited to their own unique skills,” said Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) in a release.

The Florida Chamber commends Senate President Andy Gardiner, Senator Don Gaetz and Representative Erik Fresen for continuing to secure Florida’s future for students of all abilities.

What’s Next for This Bill

The bill now heads to Governor Scott’s desk to await signature.

More Than 700,000 Floridians with Disabilities Not in the Workforce

Florida Chamber Encourages Meaningful Employment Opportunities for the Disabled and Launches Unique Abilities Internship Program


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (January 6, 2016) – New research released today by the Florida Chamber Foundation shows a disproportionately high unemployment rate among Floridians with disabilities. As part of the Chamber Foundation’s Florida Scorecard Research Project, this first-of-its-kind research shows more than 700,000 individuals with disabilities are not in Florida’s workforce.

Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry D. Parrish provided an independent analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey to develop the research results and estimates. According to the report, entitled Quantifying the Unemployment Rate for Workers with Disabilities in Florida, there are:

  • More than 1.13 million Floridians with disabilities between 16 and 65, and
  • Of those, 62.9 percent or more than 700,000 are currently not employed and may want to be part of Florida’s workforce.

The results of the report show that not only is the unemployment rate for Floridians with unique abilities substantially higher than the overall unemployment rate, but also the variability of the rates across counties is extremely high. While the annual average unemployment rate for 2014 was 6.3 percent, the unemployment rate for Floridians with disabilities in the 40 most-populated counties was 18.1 percent.

According to Dr. Susanne Homant, President and CEO of The Able Trust, this groundbreaking data has been a missing piece of important information in measuring progress among Floridians with disabilities.

“Part of the successful growth of Florida’s economy is access to all the talent in Florida and in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce,” Dr. Homant said. “The Chamber Foundation Scorecard Research Project will provide employment data and measure success.”

As a result of the significant disparity in the unemployment rate of persons with disabilities, the Florida Chamber Foundation is taking action by working with partners, including The Able Trust and local Chambers, to launch an internship program that assists Floridians with disabilities in finding meaningful employment opportunities.

“The Florida Chamber wants to do its part to encourage businesses across Florida to create job opportunities for individuals with unique abilities, and we’re pleased to help jumpstart this movement by partnering on the unique abilities internship program,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber Foundation.

The research provided for this report is the first in a series of reports conducted for the Florida Scorecard in an ongoing effort to provide metrics that track Florida’s progress and prepare the state for a more competitive future. The data provided in this report will offer Florida policymakers a new tool to help quantify the amount of progress Florida makes over the next several years in utilizing Floridians with disabilities in our workforce.

“With an additional six million more residents expected by 2030 and two million more jobs to fill, it will be critical to help every Floridian that wants to work find a job,” said Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber Foundation.

This research was funded in part by a grant from The Able Trust.


The Florida Chamber Foundation is the business-led, solutions development and research organization working in partnership with state business leaders to secure Florida’s future. The Foundation’s “Six Pillars” serve as a visioning platform for developing the first-ever, long-term strategic plan for the state. The Foundation’s work focuses on: 1) Talent Supply and Education, 2) Innovation and Economic Development, 3) Infrastructure and Growth Leadership, 4) Business Climate and Competitiveness, 5) Civic and Governance Systems, and 6) Quality of Life and Quality Places. Founded in 1968, the Foundation is a crucial voice for improving the state’s pro-business climate to enable Florida to grow and prosper. Visit for more information.