Washington, Feb. 28 – Speaking abut the improving economy of Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval said “it has to be an economy that is available to everyone,” especially for Nevadans with disabilities.
Speaking with The RespectAbility Report on the sidelines of the National Governors Association’s Winter Meeting, the Republican governor stressed the importance of disability employment. He highlighted the inclusive hiring efforts being done by Starbucks at their Carson Valley Roasting Plant and Distribution Center in Minden, Nevada. In 2015, Sandoval visited the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of Starbucks Inclusion Academy graduates. The Inclusion Academy is an “on-the-job training program for people with cognitive and physical disabilities” that prepares them for exciting careers at the global coffee giant’s largest distribution plant. One of the plant’s employees, a Special Olympics athlete named Shawn Stainbrook said that “going to work at Starbucks”…gave him “goals” and taught him to “never give up.”
Two years later, Sandoval recalled his visit and spoke about wanting to see that vision of competitive, integrated employment “happen throughout the state.”
Nevadans with disabilities are starting to see their economic opportunities improve through initiatives like Starbucks, as well as due to the state’s economy improving overall. According to new disability statistics, 1,075 Nevadans with disabilities entered the workforce between 2014 and 2015. In total, Nevada has a 41.1 percent employment rate for their citizens with disabilities. That means that 83,559 people with disabilities in Nevada out of a total community of 203,190 working people with disabilities.
Nevada’s 41.1 percent employment rate puts it at 0.1 percent behind Wisconsin, which edged Nevada out of its 2016 spot in the top 10 states with the highest employment rates for people with disabilities. However, looking at the data over time shows a steady trend upward. Nevadans with disabilities faced a 39.2 percent employment rate in 2015 that went up to 40.9 percent in 2016.
Starbucks is not the only model employer in Nevada. In 2013, Sandoval signed an executive order to provide greater opportunities for Nevadans with disabilities. Likewise, the Rehabilitation Division of Nevada’s Department of Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) has developed partnerships at other employment sites at PEPSI and Office Depot that should be held up as models of success and the state is in a position to build on that strength. The Pepsi ACT program has received a prestigious award recognizing the work enabled by Nevada VR.