Businesses that hire individuals with intellectual and development differences (IDDs) are the focus of an innovative new initiative launching next month in Northeast Florida. ConnectableJax.com’s inaugural Shopability Saturday event encourages Jacksonville residents to patronize – either in person or online – one of the area’s IDD-inclusive employers throughout the day on March 6.
More than 130 such companies are featured on a searchable map, which was created by organizers of the Connectable movement – an initiative developed to highlight the region’s unique system of support for those with Autism, Down syndrome and other IDDs as well as the value these people offer. The employers featured on the Shopability Saturday map include uniquely abled individuals on their teams, whether through employment, internships, or serving as a job site in partnership with a nonprofit, said Sarah Troup, director of Connectable.
“The Shopability map gives our community a tangible tool to identify and patronize those businesses while showing our neighbors with IDDs how much their inclusion is valued,” Troup said. “We hope this event encourages communities across the country to build on these efforts so that we can create a more inclusive workplace for all Americans with IDDs.”
Organizers say the event is the first of its kind in the country specifically centered around businesses that hire individuals with IDDs. Participating employers include the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Firehouse Subs, VyStar Credit Union, and more.
Research from the Institute for Corporate Productivity shows that people with IDDs bring hard work, diversity, and value to the workplace – with 84 percent of employers reporting these employees as highly dependable and 70 percent citing that individuals with IDDs support workplace culture. Yet, National Core Indicators reports that 84 percent of individuals with IDDs did not have paid community employment in 2018. In Florida, this rate is even higher – coming in at 90 percent.
This event is made possible through the generosity of Delores Barr Weaver, community philanthropist and former co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those interested in learning more about Shopability Saturday can visit ConnectableJax.com/Shopability.