Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas (BBB) is hosting the next Lunch.Learn.Lead workshop from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, May 13 at the West Campus of Tyler Junior College, 1530 S SW Loop 323, Tyler.

This month’s topic will focus on successful second chance hiring. Presenters for this session will be Heather Smith, manager of Alliance Pool Works, and representatives from the Texas Workforce Commission.

It is estimated that approximately 700,000 prisoners in the U.S. are released every year, and many of them face employers who have concerns about hiring ex-offenders.

In fact, a three-state recidivism study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found that fewer than half of those released from prison secured a job upon their return to the community. Likewise, 68 percent are reincarcerated within three years of release.

“The unemployment is rate at its lowest, compelling some organizations to explore other avenues and untapped talent pools,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas, said. “Ideally, this would also reduce the recidivism rate and transform future generations.”

A recent study reported that companies who give ex-offenders a fresh start have much to gain. The study found that these organizations were rewarded with approximately 13% lower turnover rates and associated costs.

Additionally, some employers received anywhere from $1,200 to $9,600 per employee through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

“It saves the bottom line,” Kim Stacy, Business Services Supervisor for Workforce Solutions-East Texas said. “It is giving an opportunity to someone who has had a criminal history and allows for the company to benefit from that in a financial way.”

Presenter Heather Smith is the office manager for Alliance Pool Works and is a convicted felon, having served two years for forgery of federal documents. She is a graduate of Baylor University with a BS in Accounting and Biblical Theology.

“Lots of times the folks that are considered ‘risky’ hires are often times your best employees,” Smith said. “They know they have been given a second chance and, in our experience, are much less likely to do something to jeopardize that opportunity.”

The mission of Texas Workforce Commission is “to promote and support a workforce system that creates value and offers employers, individuals, and communities the opportunity to achieve and sustain economic prosperity.”

The event is free for all BBB Accredited Businesses and Charities. Seats are limited. To RSVP, please contact Coleman Swierc at 903-581-5888 before Friday, May 10.

– For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.

– For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.