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Goodwill announces Opportunity Campus in West Charlotte
$20 million project to combat poverty through workforce development
 
Published Tuesday, August 5, 2014 1:24 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

Life for many Charlotteans isn’t easy.

More than 300,000 people in our region are living in poverty, and over half of those reside in Mecklenburg County. According a recent Harvard study, making the climb out of poverty into the middle class is extremely difficult, if at all possible, especially for low-skilled workers in North Carolina.

In an effort to combat the increasing levels of poverty in the Charlotte-metro area, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont has announced plans to build the Goodwill Opportunity Campus in West Charlotte.

The new campus will provide a comprehensive collection of resources and opportunities for job training and job creation for individuals with barriers to employment.

“The GOC is a unique approach to issues of poverty and dependence in our community,” said Michael Elder, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. “The GOC will provide a central location for coordinated services. Through the GOC our strategic partners will be able to meet clients’ basic needs, and we will be able to expand our job resource center and offer increased access to career coaching.”

Elder said the workforce development facility will also house Goodwill’s other business enterprises and is expected to serve more than 10,400 individuals in its first full year of operation.

Goodwill currently operates 22 retail stores with over 50 donation sites and delivers services to more than 14,800 individuals. The agency said its new project will cost $20 million to complete and has committed $12 million to getting the job done. A capital campaign has been launched to raise the remaining $8 million from the community.

The campaign has already raised $4.5 million, including a $500,000 pledge from Bank of America, which was announced Tuesday making Bank of America the largest corporate donor to date.

To assist in raising the remaining $3.5 million, the Levine Foundation has pledged to match every dollar donated from April 2014 to April 2015 up to $1.2 million.

This marks the first time in more than 30 years that Goodwill has appealed to the public for support on a capital project.

“As Goodwill approaches its 50th anniversary here in Charlotte, we are truly at a pivotal moment in our history,” said David Haggart, co-chair of the Goodwill Opportunity Campus capital campaign. “The community has never needed our work and contributions more than it does today. Despite some improvements in our economy, too many of our neighbors are still falling behind and not able to provide the basics for themselves and their families. Out of 50 of the largest (U.S.) cities, Charlotte now has the dubious distinction of ranking last for upward mobility.”

Brothers Carlos and Robert Hunter know firsthand the importance of such initiatives in the community. In 2010, both men were unemployed and enrolled in Goodwill’s construction program. Later that year, they opened Hunter & Hunter General Services, LLC, which celebrates its 4th anniversary later this month.

“The program allowed us to get great contacts,” said Robert Hunter. “We just recently finished three projects at the Tanger Outlet Mall. We did Hot Topics, Wet Seal and Steve Madden.”

The Hunter brothers said their experience at Goodwill was life changing, and they hope the new campus will provide the same opportunities for others.

“I think it’s wonderful to help people like us, especially in the community,” said Hunter. “Those without jobs can learn a skill, learn a trade and have the opportunity to start their own business.”

Construction on the GOC is expected to begin early next year with occupancy in the new building slated for 2016. The 160,000-square-foot facility is being erected on an 18-acre lot off Wilkinson Boulevard.

City Councilmember LeWana Mayfield said she and her constituents are pleased to see the facility built in their neighborhood.

“I am thrilled,” she said. “Many residents of our residents [in District 3] can attest to wondering how and why so many other areas have been able to benefit from businesses and services. How many times have we said, ‘Why not us? Why not the Westside?’ It feels good to be able to open the Tanger Outlets only a few days ago and now this amazing facility.”

Visit www.goodwillopportunitycampus.org to learn more about Goodwill’s new initiative or to make a donation.

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