Thursday, December 10, 2009

Supporting Job Creation Efforts for People with Disabilities in New Jersey

As we look at a devastated economy with real unemployment rates hovering over 18% for all workers, we know that the situation for workers with disabilities is even more dire.

In the past, the biggest issues for people with disabilities might have been accessibility and having the appropriate training and preparation for demand jobs. However, according to US Department of Labor statistics, we are now seeing 27 million more people than there are jobs available—6 people for every job opening. Clearly, while accessibility, education and training are important, an even bigger priority is the creation of new jobs to overcome the massive losses we’ve sustained in the past 10 years.

So how do we support job creation for people with disabilities? In part through supporting the entrepreneurial aspirations of people with disabilities.

New Jersey, through its MIG-funded DiscoverAbilty NJ project is targeting entrepreneurship in three ways.

NJ BLN Disability Supplier Diversity Program
First, we are working with the US and the NJ Business Leadership Network (USBLN and NJBLN) to deploy their Disability Supplier Diversity Program. Through this project, businesses can apply for a “disability-owned” designation that will be independently certified by the NJBLN. This designation will then be marketed to consumers and businesses so that they can patronize companies that have the Disability Supplier Diversity credential.

Entrepreneurship Mentoring Project
New businesses tend to fail within the first three years after start-up. However, with proper mentoring and support, new entrepreneurs can avoid many of the pitfalls that can challenge so many fledgling businesses. The Entrepreneurship Mentoring project will connect new business owners with more experienced businesses for mentoring and support during this critical time.

Innovations Fund
As part of the DiscoverAbility NJ project, we will also be funding smaller, innovative projects throughout the State. Nonprofits and other organizations can apply for the funding and priority will be given to projects that support entrepreneurship for individuals with disabilities in New Jersey.

We’re excited about the possibilities of building entrepreneurial opportunities for people with disabilities and providing them with the support they need to embark on successful self-employment. Job creation is a critical component of all of our workforce development efforts in New Jersey and support for the entrepreneurial aspirations of people with disabilities is a key piece of that puzzle.

If you have other ideas for how we can support entrepreneurship, please leave us a note in the Comments section of this post or drop me a line at

Resources on Entrepreneurship for Individuals with Disabilities

Michele Martin
DiscoverAbility NJ Project Coordinator


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