three women and a manStarting a new business is daunting for even an experienced entrepreneur but for Rosa Ramirez, a novice MWBE business owner, support from the “village” of Westchester County helped make the path to success less bumpy. Looking to leverage her passion for food and gift giving, Rosa Ramirez, a 30-year retired veteran, who most recently served in Afghanistan, launched Westchester County’s first Honey Baked Ham franchise in Hartsdale in the fall of 2018.

Seeking guidance and assistance with staffing, Rosa reached out to the Business Council of Westchester (BCW), the largest business membership organization in Westchester, for advice. BCW immediately connected Rosa with Madison Approach Staffing (MAS) whose staff reached out to local agencies Children’s Village, The Guidance Center, Westhab, and WestCOP with information about job openings and an upcoming job fair at the Mount Vernon Career Center. MAS then coordinated with all the agencies and individuals to ensure a large pool of prospective candidates would be available for interviews. MAS, also a MWBE business owner, with a passion for giving back and supporting the underserved in the local community saw the potential “win-win” for Rosa and the agencies.

MAS’s efforts resulted in 13 individuals being hired for the 2018 holiday season and two were eventually permanently hired. These individuals learned new skills in food preparation, operating a cash register/POS system, customer service, restaurant/health code standards, and franchise operations, which can hopefully lead to future employment. MAS’s efforts didn’t end with the holiday hiring. In fact, MAS helped Rosa create and manage her shift schedules and gave her advice and resources to navigate overtime laws, shift break requirements, uniform requirements, and other human resources matter that often surprise first time business owners.

“MAS went above and beyond to help me get my business up and running,” said owner Rosa Ramirez. “It was much more than just helping us source good workers. It was helping us set the foundation for successful long-term management. We are indebted to MAS for their tireless efforts to help us launch Honey Baked Ham in Scarsdale.” Ramirez’s experience in the military as a transportation officer equipped her with the management skills and organization experience to run her own business. “I would tell other veterans to believe in themselves, work hard and go for it.” She offers 10% off for other veterans who come into the store.

“The Mount Vernon Career Center job fair was an incredible opportunity to meet with job seekers face to face. Online resume portals present a big barrier to employment for people whose skills don’t fit perfectly into a specific algorithm. The agencies we reached out to all serve individuals with barriers to employment who are long-term under- or unemployed,” said Valerie Swatz of MAS, “and to be able to connect these individuals to a business with an immediate and urgent need for workers proved quite beneficial to both Rosa and those who found employment with her.”

“The value of networking and collaboration can not be understated for a new business owner,” stated Marsha Gordon, President of BCW, “and especially a novice franchisee who needed to be fully staffed quickly to take advantage of the holiday gift-giving season. BCW has been long-time collaborators with MAS and knew they’d be the perfect organization to help Rosa meet her workforce needs. Allison Madison, MAS’s founder and president, and her staff are particularly passionate about help the underserved populations of Westchester County.”

“We see the value of teamwork and partnership every day in the Career Center Network,” added Thom Kleiner, WPWDB Executive Director, “where a broad array of organizations and agencies like The Guidance Center, Westhab, WestCOP, BCW, and MAS are dedicated to working with the Career Center staff to seamlessly serve Westchester and Putnam job seekers and employers.”

“This job is helping me to support my family and has taught me more about myself as a person. My advice to others would be to take risks and don’t be scared to try new things and believe in yourself,” stated employee Darnell Glover.

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Risa B. Hoag
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