shared courtesy of Greater Baton Rouge Business Report
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana – Any time Bet-R Neighborhood Market owner Cliff Boulden has a job opening, he tries to hire a person with an intellectual or developmental disability—not as a sign of sympathy, but because he sees them as an untapped workforce that’s eager to stock shelves and read labels.
Boulden already knows many of them through his involvement with the Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy, the alma mater of his 25-year-old daughter, Molly, who is developmentally delayed. After Molly aged out of the school a few years ago, Boulden hired her part-time as a way to keep her busy and focused. But since then, he’s also brought on at least a half-dozen of her friends with special needs, who now comprise roughly 15% of his payroll.
“If you can find the thing they do well, they’re just as good as anybody else,” Boulden says of the group of mostly 20-somethings, who start out earning minimum wage. “The only drawback is that I can’t hire all of them.”