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Richmond-based manufacturing plant putting Hoosiers back to work while taking on the opioid crisis

Posted: 3:45 PM, Dec 10, 2018
Updated: 2019-01-07 16:12:22Z
Company offers bridge from addiction to jobs
Company offers bridge from addiction to jobs

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RICHMOND — A manufacturing company in Richmond is working on putting Hoosiers back to work while attempting to tackle the opioid crisis.

Since February, Belden Industries has taken a new approach to drug screenings for prospective employees as Wayne County, like many other communities across the state, is facing an opioid crisis.

Belden manufactures cable for industrial businesses and in the next few years, the company expects to lose at least one-third of their employees to retirement. They were also seeing the number of prospective employees fail pre-employment drug screenings triple. The company was at a crossroads. 

Leadership within Belden made the choice to take an unprecedented and proactive approach to filling these needed manufacturing positions by offering a bridge from treatment to employment for addicts.

Belden created the Pathways to Employment program for prospective employees as well as current employees who fail drug screenings. The program allows these individuals to undergo treatment with their community partners and work safety-conscious positions until they are able to prove their success in the program and earn positions working machinery.

"We are giving them an opportunity to earn a livable wage, giving them hope," Leah Tate, vice president of human resources, said. "We were a little bit concerned when we launched the program about what the reaction was going to be and its been a pleasant surprise — the reaction across the community with the employees I think most people have been touched by addiction in some way."

Tate said the program has essentially changed the culture at Belden over the past 10 months and has helped to erase the stigma of addiction.They have also had current employees come forward and let their employer know that they need help. 

"We have seen a huge sense of pride of people that have been able to keep a job, employees that come in and talk about the success they've had — talk about how many days they've been clean," Tate said.

Belden has learned a lot this past year, like allowing the employees to be able to earn a wage while in treatment played a big factor in the individuals remaining in the treatment program.

Since February, 26 people have entered the program with 8 dropping out. But the great news is that 15 people are now working some sort of job within the Richmond plant and 11 of those people have since graduated on to operating machinery.

Due to the program's successes, Belden is creating the 'Belden Blueprint' to help other businesses implement this type of program in their workplace. 

Not only is Belden's pathway program getting recognition across the state, but they are also getting a nod on the national level.

In the past months, they have welcomed Second Lady Karen Pence and members of the White House administration to get a firsthand look at the work Belden is doing to put Hoosiers back to work. Belden was also nominated as a finalist for a U.S. Chamber award.

If you are interested in applying for work with Belden, you can visit their website:  https://www.belden.com/about/careers

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