Business community to come together for discussion on opioid abuse

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Bradley Jackson, the president and CEO of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry, has announced a regional event focused on engaging the Middle Tennessee business community about the impact of opioid abuse.

The Tennessee Chamber is partnering with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and Williamson, Inc. to host a breakfast and panel discussion Tuesday, Feb. 11, featuring local leaders in the recovery, healthcare and criminal justice system.

“The Tennessee Chamber is proud to partner with the Nashville Chamber to provide on-the-ground resources for our Middle Tennessee business community,” Jackson said. “Tennessee businesses are on the frontline of this fight against opioids, and as the statewide business association, we believe our effort to inform businesses and utilize this toolkit will increase productivity and improve safety in the workplace. We look forward to a lively conversation and insight into how businesses can remain competitive and act in the best interest of their employees.” 

Business representatives, employers and human resource managers are invited to register to attend the breakfast, ask questions and connect with local resources. The event will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 11, from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel on Rosa Parks Boulevard. The Nashville event is the third leg of a statewide tour and the launch of the chamber’s opioid toolkit. 

“The opioid epidemic has become a daily reality here in Nashville,” said Nashville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ralph Schulz. “In order to ensure that Middle Tennessee continues to attract new businesses and thrive at its current pace, we need to ensure our workforce has every resource available to overcome this crisis. We’re proud to work with the Tennessee Chamber to host this event and connect businesses with the resources they need to succeed.” 

This toolkit and regional meetings partnering with local chambers of commerce provides resources and information for employers and communities to identify and manage the significant problems with substance use disorder, prevent substance use and improve and promote safety in the workplace and in communities at large.

“Williamson County businesses and their employees are well aware of the opioid epidemic and its impact on the health of our workforce, but rarely have a centralized resource to turn to,” said Williamson, Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen. “The Tennessee Chamber is providing a wonderful resource both online and in person for employers, and we look forward to engaging the Middle Tennessee business community on how best to respond to the opioid crisis.”

The event will begin with remarks from Bradley Jackson of the Tennessee Chamber and Ralph Schulz of the Nashville Chamber. A conversation will follow with Jason Pritchard, a recovery program manager with Ballad Health, and Matt Largen, president and CEO of Williamson, Inc. 

The panel discussion, moderated by Bradley Jackson, will feature representatives from Renewal House, Wimberly Lawson Wright Daves & Jones, and Pathway Healthcare. Mary Linden Salter, executive director of the Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services, will give opening remarks.

The opioid epidemic has taken a devastating toll on the state of Tennessee. In the first nine months of 2019, 337 people died of an overdose in Nashville alone. In 2018, 1,827 people in Tennessee died of an overdose, the deadliest year on record according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to a policy research group at the University of Tennessee, the opioid epidemic annually costs Tennesseans over $2 billion as of 2017, largely due to lost income of people who have left the labor market due to a substance use disorder. First responders especially seen the impact of the opioid epidemic, as the Nashville Fire Department administered naloxone, a drug that reverses overdose due to opioids, to 2,260 patients during 2019, a 28% increase from the year prior.

While employers can take advantage of the Tennessee Chamber’s opioid toolkit today, Middle Tennessee businesses who would like to register for the Feb. 11 event in Nashville can do so at www.tnchamber.org/otk

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