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Public/Private Partnerships Fact Sheet

FAST FACTS is a joint publication between the U.S. Chamber's Center for Workforce
Preparation & VCU-RRTC on Workplace Supports: A Business Marketing Initiative

Private businesses partnering with public disability agencies will achieve success in

recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining qualified workers with disabilities.

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The focus on hiring qualified employees with disabilities is, in fact, good for business. The return on investment to SunTrust can be measured in several ways: One, it helps in our diversity initiatives, building a strong workforce; two, it helps us to develop products and services, expanding our customer base; and three, it enables us to reach out to our entire community. It's good for our shareholders and it's good for business." C.T. Hill, chairman, president and chief executive officer, SunTrust MidAtlantic, Lead Company of the Virginia BLN


  • Companies in many industries report difficulty finding enough skilled workers to fill available jobs.
  • People with disabilities are the largest source of untapped talent in today's labor force.


  • There are many tax incentives available to businesses for training and hiring people with disabilities.
  • Local vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs are a resource to help business in recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining of workers with disabilities.
  • Business Leadership Networks (BLNs) are employer-led organizations that share innovative best practices in hiring and retaining people with disabilities. BLNs help employers meet current and future labor needs.



Business needs skilled, qualified workers to fill its labor demands and grow into new markets. Rehabilitation programs need employment placements for their customers - people with disabilities. A strong partnership is a win-win situation. Private businesses partnering with public disability agencies will achieve success in recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining qualified workers with disabilities.


  • Too much government jargon


  • Government programs too slow or have too much paperwork
  • Lack of understanding of the business culture
  • Prior bad experiences
  • Disability is not seen as a business issue by employers


Business Benefits

  • Access to a wider range of qualified candidates
  • Learn how to meet workers accommodation needs


  • Reduced turnover and improved attendance of workers
  • Diverse workforce

Rehabilitation Benefits

  • Increased employment opportunities for people with
  • Improved knowledge of business culture and needs


  • Realistic skills training
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction


The Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce in Maryland began working with the local VR program when the chamber sponsored a BLN. The chamber and VR regularly plan for the region's workforce needs.VR develops training and support programs and the result
is a steady pipeline of job-ready workers with disabilities - meeting the labor demands of the region.

Partnership Features

  • Be available to provide support
  • Earn trust by serving on committees


  • Plan events or trainings together
  • Figure out cost saving measures
  • Sponsor a Business Leadership Network (BLN)


"Chambers can promote the mission of a Business Leadership
Network as a service to their membership. The chamber can
provide information, encouragement and support regarding

workforce diversity and marketing to the disability population. Just
these two areas of service can help business members in
recruitment and retention of labor and increase sales to the growing
population of people who have disabilities."
Jack Smith, Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce


Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS), SunTrust
Bank, and Manpower, Inc.


  • The DRS works closely with Manpower Inc. and
    SunTrust Bank by providing dedicated personnel
    called Business Development Mangers (BDM).
  • BDMs are active in the community learning about

    businesses needs and teaching business about
    DRS programs and services.

  • Manpower Inc., a Fortune 500 company connecting
    people with disabilities with employment opportunities
    for more than 12 years, stays on the

    cutting edge of supply and demand to their employer-

  • SunTrust Bank has a readily available pipeline of
    dependable and qualified workers.


"Our success as a disability-friendly business is directly
tied to our strategic long-term relationships developed
with the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services

(DRS) and Manpower, Inc. Both these organizations share
our commitment to increasing our talent pool by including
individuals with disabilities.
Katherine McCary, vice president, Human Resources,
SunTrust Bank and chair of the Virginia Business
Leadership Network (BLN)

Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

  • The ADRS has developed a single point of contact
    for employers.

  • Employer Development Coordinators (EDC) actively
    share information in the business community
    and coordinate services across the various community

    rehabilitation programs.

  • A partnership between ADRS and the UAB was
    formed some 20 years ago.
  • UAB and ADRS now work together to provide timely
    and aggressive employee intervention strategies

    for University personnel whose jobs have been affected
    by illness, injury or disability.

  • The focus of the partnership is to help the university
    retain valued employees by tapping into the
    disability management resources of ADRS.


Go to and click
on Public/Private partnerships under the Resource section

for additional examples.


Public Sector


  • Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
    Contact: Peggy Anderson, 205-290-4457
  • Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services

    Contact: Ethel Walker, 804-662-7000

Private Sector

  • Center for Workforce Preparation
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
    Contact: Cathy Healy, 202-463-5970

  • U.S. Business Leadership Network

    Contact: Katherine McCary, 804-343-9571

Center for Workforce Preparation
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20062-2000
202-463-5525 VOICE; 202-463-5308 FAX


VCU-RRTC on Workplace Supports
1314 W. Main St.
Richmond, VA 23284-2011

804-828-1851 VOICE; 804-828-2494 TTY
804-828-2193 FAX

Source: Fry, Ronald, (1997) (Ed.) Developing Effective Partnerships with Employer as a Service Delivery Mechanism. Resource and Training Center Continuing Education Center, Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute, Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Editors: Valerie Brooke, VCU-RRTC on Workplace Supports and Cathy Healy and Zanna Gilbert, Center for Workforce Preparation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Contributors: Peggy Anderson, Alabama Dept. of Rehabilitation Services; Howard Green, VCURRTC on Workplace Supports; University of Wisconsin-Stout, Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, May 1999 and Salisbury Chamber of Commerce, Salisbury Maryland. Layout & Design: Jeanne Robert

VCU School of Education and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, ethnic origin, or disability. If special accommodations are needed, please contact Valerie Brooke at VOICE (804) 828-1851 or TTY (804) 828-2494. Funding for this product is provided by grant #H133B980036-02B with the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research with the U.S. Department of Education,