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Business community to learn about the impact of opioid abuse

From staff reports • Jan 26, 2020 at 3:00 PM

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

The Tennessee Chamber is partnering with the Kingsport Chamber and Leadership Kingsport to host a breakfast and panel discussion Thursday, Jan. 30, featuring local leaders in the recovery, health care, and criminal justice system. The event will also be co-hosted by the Johnson City Chamber and the Bristol Chamber.

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 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the Press Room at Food City at 300 Clinchfield St. The Kingsport event is the second leg of a statewide tour and the launch of the Chamber’s opioid toolkit.

This toolkit and regional meetings partnering with local chambers of commerce provide 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.

“The Tennessee Chamber is proud to partner with the Kingsport Chamber to provide on-the-ground resources for our Northeast Tennessee business community,” said Jackson. “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.”

“Northeast Tennessee has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. Every family, school, business, and local community has seen the damage opioids have done, and businesses are exploring how they can continue to remain competitive while taking care of their employees,” said Kingsport Chamber President & CEO Miles Burdine. “We’re proud to work with the Tennessee Chamber to host this event and connect businesses with the resources they need to navigate this crisis.”

The event will begin with a keynote address from Zac Talbott, the chief clinical officer of ReVIDA Recovery Centers and a 2019 Richard Lane – Robert Holden Patient Advocacy Award Recipient. The panel discussion, moderated by Ballad Health COO Eric Deaton, will feature representatives from NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership, ReVIDA Recovery Centers, and the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts. Jason Pritchard, a community coalition engagement specialist and recovery program manager with Ballad Health, will also offer brief remarks.

The opioid epidemic has taken a devastating toll on the state. 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 more than $2 billion as of 2017, largely due to lost income of people who have left the labor market due to a substance use disorder. Nearly a half-billion prescription pain pills were distributed in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region from 2006 to 2012, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Sullivan County experienced 99 pills distributed per person each year.

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

About the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry is the unified voice of business and the premier advocacy organization in the state. The Tennessee Chamber serves as the State Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Manufacturers Association, the state affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Chemistry Council. The Tennessee Chamber creates prosperity for all Tennesseans through an economy of increased productivity and global competitiveness. Find out more at www.tnchamber.org.