Governor Bill Lee, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, and other leaders joined over 300 participants in a forum on June 11 designed to connect Memphis area employers with sources of potential employees who are ex-offenders.
Held on the University of Memphis campus, the forum was co-sponsored by the Crime Commission, Tennessee Department of Correction, Greater Memphis Chamber, and U of M Public Safety Institute. Many of the areas largest employers down to small employers and those in between participated.
Governor Lee urged area employers to help reduce the level of repeat offenders through job opportunities. “We need to reduce recidivism, and one of the ways to do that is strengthening our re-entry programs. When we make re-entry more successful through employment, we save tax money and enhance workforce development. The key is connecting employers with those coming out and breaking down those stigmas,” said Lee.
Beverly Robertson, president of the Greater Memphis Chamber, noted that ex-offenders can help fill a labor shortage in certain key areas of the Memphis economy. Mayors Harris and Strickland emphasized how local government is committed to providing resources to help ex-offenders have both the life and technical skills necessary to be good employees.
Entities making presentations and providing contact information on how to tap into sources of employees included the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), HopeWorks, Economic Opportunities (EcOp), Tennessee Department of Correction, LIFEline to Success, Manhood University, Workforce Investment Network, and Shelby County Office of Re-Entry.