We all know that the CSRA needs qualified workers to make our economy stronger. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and Goodwill encourages the public and private sectors to strengthen their workforce by hiring qualified people with disabilities.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, people with disabilities have an unemployment rate 60 percent higher than the unemployment rate for people without disabilities. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Out of a payroll of nearly 800 employees, Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA employs 331 people with disabilities, and we know firsthand the benefits of a diverse workforce, which includes people with disabilities.

As one example, our Goodwill Industries, working with Good Vocations in conjunction with the AbilityOne Program, has been training and placing individuals with disabilities into meaningful jobs at Robins Air Force Base for more than 28 years and at Fort Gordon for more than 15 years. Our employees clean over 5.5 million square feet daily and stock 1.3 million cases of groceries each year.

Another Goodwill initiative, The Job Connection is a community resource center connecting job seekers with employers and providing placement assistance and other resources free of charge to the general public. Over the past year, our local Goodwill Job Connection placed 2,464 people into jobs and provided career development services to over 14,000 individuals. Providing education, skills training, and placement services for individuals with barriers to employment is made possible through the generous support received from our local community. Visit www.goodwillworks.org for more information and to support Goodwill.

Goodwill is here to help job seekers find meaningful employment, and to help businesses, government, and nonprofit organizations in the CSRA hire the right workers to grow our economy. In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we encourage you to recruit and hire people with disabilities. It might be the best investment you make for your community.