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Posted on Sep 08th, 2021

Leadership Alliance Joins Southern Tier 8 and other Community Partners in Launch of the Collaborative Recovery Empowerment of the Southern Tier (CREST) Workforce Development Program

Binghamton Business News

Southern Tier 8, Leadership Alliance announce regional recovery to work partnership. CREST initiative will provide education and training for employers to hire individuals in recovery.


BINGHAMTON, NY – The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, a founding member of the Leadership Alliance with The Agency, was joined today by representatives from Southern Tier 8, fellow regional chambers of commerce, workforce investment boards, and organizations dedicated to providing awareness and education regarding substance use disorders across the Southern a new program known as CREST, the Collaborative Recovery Empowerment of the Southern Tier. 


Southern Tier 8, the local development district of the federal Appalachian Regional Commission and the Economic Development Administration, represents the economic development interests of eight counties across the Southern Tier including, Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties. Southern Tier 8 first received funds to pursue the creation of CREST in April 2021, prompting the organization to issue a request for proposals to build upon the Regional Board’s Substance Use Disorder Ecosystem 2020 planning efforts. The goal of CREST is to maintain employment and sustained recovery for those currently managing their substance use disorder in the workforce. Substance use disorders impact over a million New Yorkers and Broome County often ranks as one of the highest counties for opioid burden.


Southern Tier 8 has partnered with several local chambers of commerce and organizations focused on recovery, including the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, to educate employers across the Southern Tier of the benefit of creating a culture of total wellness in the workplace as well as connect eligible jobseekers with employers that hire those in active recovery. Other partners currently include the Family & Children’s Counseling Services of Cortland, the Leatherstocking Education on Alcoholism/Addictions Foundation (LEAF), the Alcohol & Drug Council of Tompkins County, Hinman, Howard & Kattell LLP, Broome-Tioga Workforce, Kowalik & Associates, and Commerce Chenango.


“The Regional Board understands the urgency for filling open positions across the region,” said Jen Gregory, Executive Director of Southern Tier 8. “We are thrilled to secure funding for business owners and employee workforce programs.”


Stacey Duncan, CEO of the Leadership Alliance between The Agency and the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce noted “Truly effective workforce development efforts look at a community as a whole and identify and address critical gaps in programming. To support individuals in recovery in finding gainful employment with local employers that recognize the importance of total workplace wellness is a privilege. The Leadership Alliance is proud to advance the Collaborative Recovery Empowerment of the Southern Tier alongside our partners for the betterment of our businesses and communities alike.” 


“We are truly excited about the opportunity to work with the CREST team to support businesses, business owners, and their employees through a fully customized approach to wellbeing,” said Julie Dostal, Executive Director of the LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions.  “As our region continues to struggle with the pandemic, developing innovative ways to increase worker health and wellness is crucial to continued economic growth.  Additionally, tapping into an underutilized group of workers in recovery from addiction who are already on their wellness journey, makes this a project a win-win for businesses and the workforce.”


“Broome-Tioga Workforce NY looks forward to continue to work on the CREST grant under the leadership of Southern Tier 8 with our partners represented on this board. The CREST grant brings together organizations willing to take an innovative approach of workforce wellness to encourage persons to both re-enter and maintain their spot in our workforce and to help them find employment that meets their capabilities,” said Executive Director of Broome-Tioga Workforce, Robert Murphy.


Angela Sullivan, Executive Director Alcohol and Drug Council of Tompkins County, said “It is vitally important for our community health, the well-being of individuals in recovery and our local economy that there are meaningful employment opportunities that support workers in recovery.”


Lisa Hoeschele, Executive Director and CEO of Family Counseling Services of Cortland County remarked “Recovery is an integral part of workforce wellness. We laud local employers who embrace resilience in their employees and are very happy to partner with others who see the true benefits of an inclusive workforce.”


The Collaborative Recovery Empowerment of the Southern Tier program will kick off with a 3-hour virtual workshop on addiction and recovery in the workplace. Hiring managers, supervisory staff, human resources personnel, and CEOs are encouraged to choose one of the three available dates to learn why businesses need to get involved, the science behind addiction, the legal issues surrounding retaining employees in recovery, and available tax credits for employers. In addition, attendees will hear a testimonial from Dale Weed, President of Pure Functional Foods, a New York state business that has successfully hired individuals in active recovery. The virtual program dates are scheduled for Thursday, September 16, 2021, Thursday, October 14, 2021, and Tuesday, November 16, 2021. The workshops are each scheduled to run from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM with a networking session beginning at 8:30 AM.


Join the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce and their partners for the first webinar in the series on Thursday, September 16, 2021 to learn more about substance use disorder in the workplace and the journey to total wellness. For more information on the webinar series and how to register, visit