$20K Grant to Fund Drug-Free Workplace Program

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Mahoning County is the recipient of a $20,000 grant to promote drug-free workplaces, the county mental health and recovery board announced Thursday.

The Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, which will host and arrange seminars on the subject for employers, joined the board in making the announcement.

The funds come from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and its Drug-Free Workforce Community Initiative.

Mahoning County is one of 18 to share in the $360,000 distributed by the Department of Mental and Addiction Services, the chamber said. The grant provides access to the services of Working Partners, a consulting and training firm, to develop a community plan that works for employers and employees to address the economic threat of substance abuse.

Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said, “This initiative will allow the board and community partners to assist local employers in finding and retaining healthy and productive employees.”

The Drug-Free Workforce Community Initiative will bring together key stakeholders and employers to assess local challenges and resources and implement strategies to develop a job-ready workforce of drug-free individuals. Employers will be equipped with education, technical assistance and the tools needed to prevent and respond to workplace substance abuse.

The Regional Chamber will assist by hosting and facilitating the business education events.

Nick Santucci, manager of education and workforce development at the chamber, stated, “Companies in the area continue to struggle to find qualified, capable workers who are drug-free. By receiving a grant like this one, we are able to further emphasize the need for a drug-free workforce. There are 12,075 available jobs in the tri-county area, and we must encourage the potential workforce and public to pass screenings in order to obtain these jobs.”

Brenda Heidinger, associate director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, added, “The initiative will also give us the opportunity to educate local job-seekers and employers about substance use issues, including safe use of prescription medications, responsible drinking and the rules for medical marijuana in Ohio. Many people do not realize that Ohio Law allows employers to maintain a drug-free workplace by not allowing medical marijuana use by their employees.”

Partners for this program include the Regional Chamber, Mahoning Valley Safety Council, Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, Mahoning County Commissioners, Ohio Means Jobs, Coalition for a Drug Free Mahoning County and leaders among the business community.

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