Skip to content

Upcoming employment summit sparking interest

Interest from local employers seems to be growing as staff from the Missouri Job Center in Park Hills and East Missouri Action Agency continue to finish planning this month’s “HIRE” (Hiring Initiative for Reentry Employment) conference, which focuses on education and encouragement for area employers when it comes to hiring employees who have previously been convicted of crimes.

East Missouri Action Agency L.I.F.E. Program Coordinator Rob Baker said the conference has already attracted 16 registered employers from the area who will be attending to hear information and experiences from several sources. The conference will be held Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Farmington Public Library. Registration is $15 per business, includes a continental breakfast and should be made to the Missouri Job Center by Sept. 18.

 “We have a panel of employers, big and small, that are going to share their success that they’ve had working with offenders, along with any challenges that they’ve encountered,” Baker said. “Though we won’t have them in-person, we’ll be reading five or six success stories from clients who just needed a chance and found employers that gave them that chance, so now they’re doing well and are taxpayers instead of tax-users, while still meeting all the requirements of probation and parole.”

Attendees will also hear from a representative from the Missouri Department of Corrections regarding the programs that are available for incarcerated individuals to prepare for employment by working toward a G.E.D. or a trade.

“People are not coming out dumbed-down and unskilled,” Baker said. “They’re coming out with skills and needing a job.”

Employers will additionally hear from a representative from Probation and Parole regarding how to interpret information from Case.net when performing manual searches of potential employees’ criminal history. An economic development speaker will also discuss opportunities for employers to receive tax credits based on their hiring practices.

“It’s not just for offenders, but it’s income-based,” Baker said. “So if an employer hires someone who fits the criteria — receiving food stamps, for example — they can get a tax credit for their business. A lot of businesses either don’t know about it or they think it’s too much paperwork. So we’re hoping to open some doors there.”

Baker said the general hope for the event is that it will begin a conversation with employers and allow myths to be dispelled regarding the employment of prior offenders.

“I think what we really want to show employers is that there are opportunities to offset training costs and to dispel the myth that if you hire an offender, they’ll steal from you or not show up when the statistical data shows that people who are mandated to have a job are the ones who show up.”

Baker said he hopes that even more businesses and even community or state leaders are able to attend in order to be a part of the discussion, which he expects will grow with time.

“Maybe next year we’ll have some employers who came to the job summit this year and are now hiring offenders,” he said. “Maybe the panel will expand and keep this as an ongoing project.”

New policies concerning bail considertions will take effect beginning in early July.

New policies concerning bail considertions will take effect beginning in early July.

The HIRE (Hiring Initiative for Reentry Employment) conference will be hosted from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 25 at the Farmington Public Library.

The HIRE (Hiring Initiative for Reentry Employment) conference will be hosted from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 25 at the Farmington Public Library.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at jscott@dailyjournalonline.com.

Leave a Comment