Where to Find Community Talent

By: Karen Pieters, Executive Director, Crystal River Main Street

Appeared in: Citrus County Chronicle


Learn More About the Internship Program See What Other Leaders Have Said


Last year Crystal River Main Street created a pop-up museum that showcased our community’s talent.

As we sought to plan the pop-up museum, we ran into an interesting dilemma — we found ourselves without enough workforce to showcase all the amazing talent we had to show. Weeks and weeks of preparation for this project meant the need to hire help, but as a nonprofit, funds for extra help aren’t always easy to come by.

Creating a more diverse workforce can be a challenge to many companies that don’t have the available resources to make new hires, especially local small businesses.

So when we heard about the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program, a grant created in partnership with The Able Trust, we knew we had to give it a chance. This program, in its pilot year, is helping create a more diverse workforce by connecting businesses with resources and tools that are currently available to hire and retain persons with disabilities. Crystal River Main Street was chosen as one of 10 Florida businesses to participate in the pilot year. By partnering with the Florida Chamber Foundation, Crystal River Main Street was able to get support on their bottom line, by getting reimbursed for their intern’s accrued cost, up to a predetermined amount.

Our community is rich with art, culture and diversity and it is these things we celebrate each and every day. It seems only fitting that our business practices do too.

If you would like to learn more about getting involved with the Florida Chamber Foundation, visit www.FLChamber.com/InternshipProgram.

Thank you to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Partner:

The Key to Closing the Unemployment Gap of Disabled Floridians? Target Their Abilities to Your Business Needs.


Authored by: Bruce Hagan, RAI Investments


Learn More About the Internship Program See What Other Leaders Have Said


Did you know that the unemployment rate for Floridians with disabilities is three times Florida’s unemployment rate? RAI Investments took on the challenge of closing this talent gap and in my discussions with business leaders, they all ask me one thing: “If I hire someone who has a disability, how will they do the work?”

Hiring someone with a disability can seem overwhelming, but my advice to businesses is simple: hire the way you always do and match abilities to your needs. For instance, you might not want someone who uses a wheel chair unloading and stacking warehouse inventory- but that person might be ideally suited to run your IT programs, including your inventory software.

RAI Investments was one of 10 businesses selected to participate in the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Internship Program, a pilot program with The Able Trust that serves as a resource for businesses looking to find a qualified employee with a disability through internships.

We’ve learned a lot through the process and have found in this program an incredible intern that taught us ways of enhancing how we do business. People who have a disability who are given an opportunity to come into your business are going to really work hard and, at the end of the day, their differences are not that great from the other 320 million of us out there.

If your business is interested in getting involved with the Florida Chamber Foundation, visit www.FloridaChamber.com/InternshipProgram for more information.

Bruce Hagan CFP is the President and CEO of RAI Investments, a Tallahassee-based business that provides financial planning services to clients. Their intern assisted in marketing efforts and more.