A video project that will be used as part of a best practices toolkit for the 80 vocational rehabilitation agencies nationwide will feature several Alabama businesses as partners of the ADRS Business Relations Program.
Once completed, the video – entitled Focus on Alabama: Business Engagement at Five Phases – will serve as a companion to a toolkit on the five different stages of business engagement: advising, capacity building, program designing, convening, and leading. The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) is providing funding for the project.
Alabama was chosen as the site for the filming because the department’s Business Relations Program – known as READI-Net – is the only program in the nation that features examples at all five levels of engagement.
“We were chosen for this project because we have the longest-standing VR business relations program in the country, and our business partnerships are the only ones in the nation to function at all five partnership phases,” said ADRS Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson. “It’s a big kudos to us.”
Each of the five phases of business engagement are important to fostering a strategic partnership, Anderson said.
The first phase of advising is forming an initial contact. Phase two, capacity building, involves establishing trust and credibility. Three is program designing, or collaborating to build a pathway to meet both business and VR client needs. The fourth phase of convening is a strategic collaboration of multiple business and workforce partners, while the final phase – leading – involves having a full strategic partner to advocate and promote a workforce system that is inclusive of people with disabilities.
Produced by the University of Arkansas CURRENTS program, the video will spotlight six different ADRS business partners: Alabama Power, the VA Medical Center, the OfficeMax distribution center, Amerex, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Regions Bank. Filming is taking place in the Birmingham area the week of July 25. The CURRENTS program will use the video as part of the toolkit for other VR agencies around the country that are attempting to build or advance a VR business relations program.
“We are letting businesses tell the story,” Anderson said. “This video isn’t us giving ourselves pats on the back or bragging on our own good deeds. This is about outreach and how ADRS delivers on our promise to employers of training, recruitment, and accessibility providing a continuity of growth for business. ADRS engages these businesses and we deliver results.”