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:

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.”


Hire an Intern   Host a Seminar


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.”