New Maine Program Receives National Recognition Bookmark and Share

November 9, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2012 CONTACT: Julie Rabinowitz, Department of Labor, 207-621-5009; John Martins, Department of Health and Human Services, 207-287-5012

Business Leadership Network Helps Employers Hire People with Disabilities

AUGUSTA—The U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) has recognized Maine’s new disabilities employment program as the Affiliate of the Month for November 2012. The Maine BLN program, formed in the spring of 2012, works with businesses to increase the employment of people with disabilities in Maine.

Housed within the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the BLN is led by part-time Director Jim Baumer and the Maine BLN Advisory Board, The board includes Procter & Gamble, L.L. Bean, U.S. Cellular, the Maine chapter of the Society for Human Resources Managers, the Aroostook Center Mall and DHHS and DOL staff representatives.

As Maine’s general population and the workforce ages, the number of citizens and workers with disabilities increases. Maine’s BLN has the potential to play a key role in brokering partnerships and becoming a valuable resource to employers to help them better serve customers and employees with disabilities.

“We have witnessed the importance of work in terms of creating a sense of purpose, improving self-esteem and creating stronger ties in the community,’’ said DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “We know that people with disabilities have a lower rate of employment than the general population and appreciate the effort of Maine’s Business Leadership Network to create opportunities for success in the workforce.”

The Maine BLN’s lead employer is Procter & Gamble/Tambrands in Auburn. Their new FlexiCenter incorporates an inclusion model for hiring based upon a successful program implemented in other states by Walgreens. David Bartage, finance manager with Procter & Gamble/Tambrands serves on the Core Steering Committee.

Commission of Labor Jeanne Paquette recognized the importance of Procter & Gamble’s participation, “Having a high-visibility, progressive employer like P&G spearheading our efforts in Maine will only enhance our capacity to grow our employer-to-employer viability. We also appreciate the Maine State Chamber’s support in launching this program.”

“Recognizing the great contributions people with disabilities make in our economy plays an important role in our workforce development mission,” she added.

In selecting Maine, the USBLN noted that the new affiliate “has been doing outstanding start up work in your locale and that you have been busy reaching out to business to help equip them with the tools that they need to tap into the skills, talent and buying power of persons with disability advancing disability inclusion in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain.”

They also noted, “Your business-led board is exemplary. … We know that the ‘Best Practices’ that you will promote will be cutting edge within our network.”

In the Maine affiliate’s first eight weeks of operations, it connected successfully with more than a dozen employers. The BLN will host a series of workshops for employers in early 2013 that will highlight the value and importance of hiring people with disabilities by featuring businesses experienced in employing people with disabilities.

USBLN is the national disability organization made up of more than 60 BLN affiliates across North America, 5,000 employers. The USBLN facilitates the ability of employers to create disabilities inclusive cultures that increase their talent pools, attract and retain customers and enhance entrepreneurship and economic opportunities for people with disabilities.