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Front Page » Top Stories » Groundbreaking Set For Goodwill Expansion

Groundbreaking Set For Goodwill Expansion

Written by on October 7, 2004

By Deborah España
Goodwill Industries is set to break ground at the end of this month on expansion

of its Miami plant, planned to add jobs and more than 60,000 square feet of space.

The larger facility is expected to generate about $155 million in wages and $35 million in federal taxes annually. About 4,000 workers will be made ready for the public workforce each year, said Dennis Pastrana, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of South Florida.

The project is being financed with a $2.5 million grant from the Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration and a $9 million private bond from SunTrust Bank, he said. The new building will be next to Goodwill’s embroidery plant at 2121 NW 21st St. in the Allapatah neighborhood.

Goodwill trains people with disabilities to enter the workforce. "The goal is to train and motivate each individual worker to be able to handle a regular workday and environment despite their disabilities," said Mr. Pastrana.

Potential employees are evaluated on their dexterity, logic and motor skills and tested for math and English competency before being placed in a program where they begin a transition to the workplace, said Lourdes Little, vice president of marketing. "Our goal is to make them independent," she said. "Most of the individuals that come here depend on their families, the government or someone else for help."

Goodwill employees generally work 40 hours per week and are paid minimum wage up to $10.50 an hour, said Ms. Little.

"We don’t push anyone out of the program, she said. "All who participate in the program must be comfortable with their skills, and their caseworkers have to be comfortable, too."

Jobs at Goodwill include assembly-line work, and products are made to fill contracts from the US government, United Way and private companies. "The more steps a product has, the better," said Ms. Little. "This way, we can have more workers completing the project."

Employees produce items such as camouflage trousers, jackets and slacks for military personnel for the government. Mr. Pastrana said Goodwill has a contract to produce 500,000 trousers each year.