The Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board (Summit DD) Microenterprise program was honored at the annual Team NEO Economic Development Plus Awards in Cleveland earlier this month. Winning the Fostering Entrepreneurship award, the Microenterprise program was highlighted for its innovative self-employment approach, offering people with disabilities another way to earn money, gain business experience, and succeed in their community.
Team NEO Plus Awards recognize organizations that have made creative and significant contributions to the economic development of Northeast Ohio. The Fostering Entrepreneurship award specifically spotlights efforts that cultivate new start-up organizations to be successful in the Cleveland-area region.According to Jacquie Owens, Summit DD Specialty Business Manager,
The goal of the Microenterprise program is to create opportunities for individuals to become as self-sufficient as possible by giving them tools, training, and supports to start their own small business ventures. We are honored receive the award.”
In line with the award’s focus, the Summit DD Microenterprise program has offered self-employment opportunities to more than 30 people with developmental disabilities. Microenterprise Advisor Gary Peters noted, “The individuals we support develop businesses based on their interests. We advise them in areas of marketing, researching regulations, obtaining suppliers, and other business procedures.” The emerging self-directed businesses reflect many interests, from selling original artwork to publishing books.
Microenterprise as an Employment Option
DODD encourages and supports microenterprise efforts such as this one in Summit County. Microenterprise can be a promising career option for people with significant disabilities, allowing for work to be tailored to an individual’s talents, skills, interests, and support needs.
The first step is to develop a support team who can assist in the self-employment planning process, which includes development of business concept, business feasibility, business plan, resource plan, and funding options. For individuals who receive public benefits such as SSI, SSDI, or Medicaid, a work incentives counselor should be sought to learn how business ownership may impact benefits.
Kristen Helling, DODD lead for the Employment First initiative, observed, “Every person has abilities, skills and talents that enrich our community. Microenterprise can be an excellent strategy to develop an individualized job that is a perfect match for the job seeker.” To find out more, visit www.ohioemploymentfirst.org.
Summit DD contact: Tricia Perduk, 330-634-8877