United Collection Bureau Inc., a recovery and accounts-receivable firm at 4100 Horizons Drive, was named Employer of the Year by the Ohio Governor's Council on People with Disabilities during an Aug. 20 ceremony at the Statehouse.

United Collection Bureau Inc., a recovery and accounts-receivable firm at 4100 Horizons Drive, was named Employer of the Year by the Ohio Governor's Council on People with Disabilities during an Aug. 20 ceremony at the Statehouse.

"This award recognizes the culture and teamwork of the entire workforce in these centers and demonstrates that people with disabilities are key contributors to any enterprise," said Jeff Horner, UCB chief development officer and senior vice president of the Government Services Division.

UCB developed a successful program for increasing the number of employees with disabilities in its Upper Arlington and Toledo call centers. The facilities have seen more than a 600 percent increase in the hiring of people with disabilities since the program began in 2004.

Horner noted that call centers often present ideal employment opportunities for people with disabilities, since the work requires little to no physical exertion.

"At the end of the day, the person we're calling is just talking to someone on the other end of the phone and they don't know that person has physical limitations or disabilities at all," Horner said. "That's empowering for the employee who is living in that world of voice and sound and delivering those services."

UCB collaborated on the program with the Sierra Group, a Pennsylvania-based consulting company that helps companies recruit and train employees with disabilities.

"When you work in this type of environment, you can earn really well-paying wages. You can earn a good living, you can gain bonuses," said Janet Fiore, president and founder of the Sierra Group. "It just seemed like the perfect match to be able to find regional talent, people with disabilities, and help Jeff and his company get completely set up and ready to bring people into the world of work."

The Employer of the Year Award recognizes companies that serve as models for other businesses in emphasizing ability rather than disability as a major factor in employment, promotion and advancement within the company.

"We're looking for employers who go above and beyond, and obviously UCB does," said Christine Moranda, chair of the employment committee of the Governor's Council on People with Disabilities.

In addition to the Employer of the Year Award, UCB has also received a Municipal Income Tax Credit Incentive from the city of Upper Arlington to help the company expand operations at its Horizons Drive call center. UCB projects adding 10 employees to its current staff of 58 over the next three years

On Monday night, city council approved a 25 percent tax credit on payroll from new employees.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com