The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce and its members are looking at tapping into “the alternative workforce.”

The latest “Eggs and Issues” event hosted August 10 by the Chamber discussed the benefits and risks faced by employers when hiring people with prior criminal convictions or struggles with addiction.

Organizers say Binghamton has over four-thousand open jobs and not enough people willing or able to fill the demand.  Meanwhile, people who have filled their obligations by serving time or getting treatment for addiction issues find it very difficult to assimilate into mainstream society when they are unable to get employment.

Vikrant Reddy, a Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute points to reduced recidivism while companies tap into a dedicated and qualified workforce.

Reddy also serves on the Executive Committee of Criminal Law Practice Group of the Federalist Society and is an appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Texas State Advisory Committee.

The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce cites Bureau of Labor statistics showing, that while local unemployment rates have been falling, the size of the workforce has been shrinking. In addition, the New York State Comptroller’s Office reports the Southern Tier had a workforce participation rate of about 54%. New York’s participation rate is 60.4%, 40th worst in the U.S.