Gov. Lee visits ETSU to hear update on Expect Employment initiative

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee visited ETSU last Thursday, where he was joined by state and local officials, ETSU President Brian Noland and students from the Access ETSU program. PHOTO BY DAVE ONGIE

By Dave Ongie, Managing Editor
Governor Bill Lee was in Johnson City last Thursday afternoon to hear an update on progress made by the Employment First Task Force.

Lee was presented with a copy of the annual Expect Employment report from a student in the Access ETSU program, a two-year postsecondary program at ETSU designed for young adults with intellectual disabilities. Following a presentation, Lee was excited about the progress Tennessee has made in improving employment prospects for those with intellectual disabilities.

“I do believe Tennessee is showing other states how to do this,” Lee said. “We have a lot of work yet to do and we’re continuing to find ways to improve what we do.”

The Expect Employment report is released by the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to document progress made by the Employment First Task Force, which was started by an executive order back in 2013. Tennessee’s DIDD Director Brad Turner was on hand Thursday during the presentation.

While the task force has been around for nearly a decade, Lee said the push to provide opportunities for people with disabilities is picking up steam thanks to a combination of efforts being made at the state level and new technologies.

“We’re seeing increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to live independently because of technology that we are getting out to the organizations that are serving,” Lee said. “I’m very encouraged with the work that’s happening.”


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