Nehemiah Manufacturing was created to build brands, create jobs, and change lives. Founded 12 years ago by CEO Dan Meyer, the Cincinnati based household and personal care company was built with a social mission and works to provide meaningful second chances for its employees.
From the outset, the company set out to hire people with felony convictions and problems with addiction. Providing formerly incarcerated people with a steady job can reduce the risk of recidivism by a third, but having a rap-sheet makes this difficult. A criminal record reduces the chance of finding work by up to 50%, and between 60%-75% of justice-involved individuals remain unemployed a year after leaving prison.
Nehemiah have made it their mission to combat this, and 85% of Nehemiah’s employees are hard-to-hire. It’s not just about doing the right thing. Dan has found them to be among his most hard working and employees. He went on to co-found the Beacon of Hope Business Alliance, which brings together leaders from businesses, the government, the Church and social services to provide jobs for Returning Citizens.
“Early in this journey, the ‘aha’ moment was realising that sustainable employment, while being the most critical element is preventing recidivism, is not enough. Today, we have 3 full time Social Workers who work with each one of our family members from day one, to understand the barriers they face each day and discuss how we can work together to remove those barriers…It is by providing holistic support that our employees/ family members can accomplish greatness for themselves and their families.“
The company has three sites, all of which are located in Cincinnati’s poorest areas. They worked closely with local authorities to select the sites, and are committed to bringing manufacturing jobs to the inner city. This focus on stimulating community development and rebuilding the local area is reflected in their namesake: the Old Testament figure who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah’s purpose doesn’t stop at the factory gates. They are an active voice in delivering much needed criminal justice reform, and recently joined other Ohio businesses to support SB 256 – a ban on sentencing children to life without the possibility of parole. The bill became law in January 2021.
As Production Supervisor Rayshun Holt, who himself was sentenced to 18 years in prison when he was just 15, writes:
“In 1996, the year I entered prison, there were approximately 150 children incarcerated in adult prisons in Ohio. Today, that number is closer to 50 – 50 too many. Not because crime has decreased, but because research and common sense has proven that holding kids to the same standards as adults is unreasonable.”
Our Knowledge Partner, the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice, is delighted to work with Nehemiah Manufacturing and Dan Meyer and support all their amazing efforts to provide real second chances. Read more about their work here.
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