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Encouraging inclusiveness in Florida's workforce

4:36 PM, Oct 18, 2012   |    comments
Lenne Nicklaus-Ball accepts an award for the Sirata Beach Resort in St. Petersburg for its commitment to employing people with disabilities.
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Tallahassee, Florida - Two businesses from St. Petersburg and Pasco County are getting special recognition for their commitment to hiring people with disabilities.

Gov. Rick Scott helped hand out awards Thursday to Florida businesses for their efforts to employ people with disabilities.

The Sirata Beach Resort in St. Petersburg and Habitat for Humanity in Pasco County were both honored at the annual Exceptional Employer Awards ceremony.

Lenne Nicklaus-Ball of the Sirata Beach Resort says her business gets a lot of employees from the Vincent House in Pinellas Park. Vincent House helps rehabilitate people with mental illness and finds them jobs.

Nicklaus-Ball says the Sirata is proud to have these workers on staff.

"They're very loyal and they're happy to be working with you and they have a great attitude. Once they get in a place where they feel secure they really shine, especially with us in tourism. They really represent the Sirata well."

Elliott Steele founded Vincent House nearly ten years ago. Vincent House has provided more than 30 people for jobs at the Sirata over the past four years. Steele calls it a tremendous relationship that's opening doors for his clients and giving them new confidence in the workplace.

"We've had some of the vice presidents of Sirata tell us that some of our members set examples for other employees in their business because they're very devoted, they're very conscious about being there on time."

Habitat for Humanity Pasco County was also honored at the ceremony. John Harper of Habitat for Humanity says people with disabilities make a big contribution to the operation. He says one employee even handles the business' e-commerce division and has helped generate a lot of income.

"They don't have disabilities. They all have capabilities and it's just a matter of matching up the correct capability with the individual."

Gov. Rick Scott has made job-creation one of his main priorities. He told the crowd he welcomed businesses' efforts to be more inclusive and hire more people with disabilities.

"Anybody that has a disability, I know they want to work. I've not met one person that didn't. They want to be productive. They want to make things happen. Everybody in our state has goals, dreams, visions about their future and our job is to make sure we help them every day."

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities honored seven businesses around Florida. They are:

Baptist Health South Florida (Miami)
Habitat for Humanity (Pasco County)
Mangrove Mike's Café (Islamorada)
Miller's Ale House (Daytona Beach)
Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center (St. Pete)
Universal Orlando Resort

Dave Heller

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