PRESS RELEASE: ARC Awards OVRDC an INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Grant

OVRDC to INSPIRE Recovery to Work Initiative “Southern Ohio Employer Resource Network” with Regional Community Action Partners  

Waverly, Ohio – Last week, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded more than $9.4 million to 30 projects through INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE), an initiative addressing Appalachia’s substance abuse crisis by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem leading to workforce entry or re-entry.

The Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC) project to build a “Southern Ohio Employer Resource Network (SOERN),” was awarded $500,000 through the INSPIRE initiative. The grant award comes after a year-long recovery cohort learning academy project OVRDC facilitated, hosting regional recovery-to-work learning sessions with leaders from southern Ohio counties and other Appalachian regions.

“Securing stable employment is an important factor for successful outcomes,” said John Carey, Director of the Ohio Governor’s Office of Appalachia. “INSPIRE projects like this will help to break down barriers for individuals to rejoin the workforce and sustain recovery.”

The “Southern Ohio Employer Resource Network” is a workforce development project providing support to employers and employees aligning with the ARC Strategic Plan goal to build a ready workforce improving the education, knowledge, skills, and health of residents to work and succeed in Appalachia. OVRDC is primarily an economic development agency, and the target population for the SOERN project will be employers who are looking for a ready workforce, and employees who struggle with work-life balance issues often related to Substance Use Disorder (SUD). In early recovery, these work-life issues and lack of connection to the community can be a tipping point in the struggle to maintain employment and sobriety.

The SOERN initiative developed as an action plan for engaging employers in creating opportunities and community connections for individuals in recovery to access existing wrap-around services and support programs. The Recovery-to-Work Learning Cohort Core Team members include Julie Bolen, Ross County Community Action Commission, Michelle Scaggs, Bellisio Foods (Jackson County), Jamie Colley, HopeSource Treatment (Scioto County), and Kim Reynolds, OVRDC (Pike County). The Core Team members will be part of the “Southern Ohio Employer Resource Network” project and will also include Jackson/Vinton Community Action Organization Executive Director Cheryl Thiesson.

“I am looking forward to working with our two community action organization partners on this effort. OVRDC’s role will mostly be as collaborator and facilitator for regional connections, and we will leave the recovery to work innovations up to them. Hopefully, the success of this effort will result in the expansion of this same collaboration to include other community action organizations serving our region,” said John Hemmings, OVRDC Executive Director.

The SOERN will help connect employers and employees to various community resources and programs. These services will benefit employees by helping them access resources and services directly on the job which can help overcome common barriers to sustained employment, such as recovery support, peer support, housing, childcare, and transportation.

The SOERN will also help support the employer who may not be familiar with the various community and social service programs available in the community. Bringing services to the job site will improve employee retention and absenteeism.

“I am very excited about the Southern Ohio Employee Resource Network (SOERN) because it will help improve workforce development opportunities for individuals in substance-use recovery in Ross County. The SOERN is an excellent opportunity for local employers and social service and community organizations to work together in a way that mutually benefits all parties. Employees get access to the resources they need. Employers improve and develop their workforce, and social service and community organizations further their reach for services to the community,” said Julie Bolen, Executive Director of the Ross County Community Action Commission and the Recovery to Work Cohort Core Team leader.

The Southern Ohio Employee Resource Network project is connecting with employers and partner agencies. For more information, contact Kim Reynolds, OVRDC Development Director at 740-947-2853.



Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC) is a regional planning commission and Local Development District (LDD) dedicated to the development of Southern Ohio, providing multi-jurisdictional planning and economic development, administrative, professional, and technical assistance to local governments, nonprofits, communities, and citizens in a twelve-county region. More information at


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