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Branstad, Reynolds Highlight Iowa’s Leadership in Employing Individuals with Disabilities

March 30, 2016
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

(DES MOINES) Today, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds highlighted Iowa's leadership as the 3rd best state in the nation for empowering individuals with disabilities through employment. The disability advocacy group RespectAbilityUSA recently highlighted Iowa's leadership and data in the 2015 Disability Statistics Annual Report.

Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds were joined by Jeff James, Financial Support Systems Analyst at LCS and Heather Link, Human Resources Manager at Owner Revolution. Mr. James shared his perspective on how he was supported in advancing his career. Ms. Link spoke about the work of employing individuals with disabilities.

RespectAbilityUSA noted:

"with strong leadership from Gov. Terry Branstad and then Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa jumped the highest within the top ten from number seven to number three. In 2013, 44.8 percent of Iowa's 169,300 working-age people with disabilities were employed. One year later, in 2014, 46.5 percent are employed. Recently, groups such as the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IDVR) and the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, in partnership with other organizations, have come together to establish the Iowa Coalition for Integrated Employment. Iowa uses Project SEARCH and other methods to successfully transition youth with disabilities into good jobs in their communities. The coalition also has strong partnerships with key employers including Kwik Trip, Winnebago, Manpower, Unity Point and other companies. Iowa also helps people with disabilities start their own companies, such as Em's Coffee Company and Johnston Creek Farms."

"I'm pleased to see that Iowa is leading the way in empowering individuals with disabilities through employment," said Branstad. "Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I often hear about the skills gap in our state. Continuing to improve the workforce participation rate of Iowans with disabilities is yet another way we can grow our state's talent pipeline."

Lt. Gov. Reynolds continued, "I'm excited to see the gains that Iowa has made in jumping from seventh to third best in the nation in terms of employing individuals with disabilities. This speaks to the collaboration and partnership between our state agencies and many different stakeholders. I believe every Iowan can and should have the opportunity to learn, work and have a rewarding career."

RespectAbilityUSA is a non-profit organization working to educate, sensitize and engage Americans to focus on what people with disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot.

The 2015 Disability Statistics Annual Report was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living.



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