The new $18 million Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley headquarters building on South Main Street in Dayton will boost the charitable organization’s visibility and capacity to serve people with disabilities and other needs, the agency’s top official said.
Goodwill Easter Seals opened its Community Services Campus at 660 South Main St. on Wednesday and hosted a public open house Saturday.
The three-story, 100,000-square-foot center is located on a 7.5-acre campus that extends over two city blocks. A 59-foot-tall sign tower near the intersection of South Main Street, South Patterson Boulevard and the U.S. 35 overpass that is seen from 80,000 passing cars per day accentuates the agency’s presence.
Consolidating many of GESMV’s more than 40 programs and services in one easily accessible location will allow the organization to better meet the needs of people with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged in a 23-county region, said Lance Detrick, president and chief executive.
“This is a great opportunity for our organization to expand services and to really move out more into the community,” Detrick said.
Phil Parker, president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the new GESMV center’s ability to extend services to a greater number of those in need will be its most significant impact.
But an important secondary benefit, Parker said, is the center’s role in revitalizing the South Main and Warren streets corridor that had been deteriorating before significant investments by Goodwill Easter Seals, Premier Health/Miami Valley Hospital, the University of Dayton and Cox Media Group Ohio.
Those improvements to the corridor south of downtown “are setting us up for more success in terms of job growth and overall progress for decades to come,” Parker said. “This area has made a 180-degree about-face, and it’s now an up-and-coming place to live, work and play.”
Christopher Lipson, development specialist in the city of Dayton’s department of economic development, called the new community services center project “an important and vital contribution to our city and community,” and said it is a crucial component in the city’s efforts to reinvigorate the South Main Street corridor.
Founded in 1934, GESMV has been headquartered at an industrial facility at 1511 Kuntz Road since 1979, when the agency served 423 people annually. Last year, the organization served more than 15,000 people.
The agency’s annual budget has grown from $2 million in 1979 to $45 million this year.
Detrick said GESMV will have the capacity to serve 30,000 children and adults in the next five to 10 years.
The finished portion of the new building is about twice as large as the program and administrative space at Kuntz Road. The campus also has vacant office space and open greenspace for future expansion.
“One of the challenges the community faces is there certainly are no shortage of people in poverty in Montgomery County or the Dayton area, and also the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is quite high,” Detrick said.
“I think it is very important for Goodwill Easter Seals to continue to push the growth and expand services to these people, because there are a lot of people in need out there,” he said.
Goodwill Easter Seals has nearly 1,200 employees, slightly more than half of whom are people with disabilities. Nearly 150 workers will move from Kuntz Road and other locations to the new center. The agency plans to add a minimum of 50 new jobs over the next five years at the South Main Street facility.
Goodwill Easter Seal’s retail, warehousing, and contract packaging and assembly operations will move from Kuntz Road to the former Contractors Warehouse building at 1750 Woodman Drive. The Kuntz Road building is for sale.
The agency operates 26 retail stores and one outlet store in the region, and plans to add two or three more stores next year, Detrick said.
The Community Services Campus was constructed with accessibility features that extend beyond Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The building includes double-wide hallways, restrooms without entrance doors, and a 475-foot-long ramp — called the helix — that circles from the first to third floors at a gentle slope for easy wheelchair access.
The carpet patterns and wallpaper textures are designed to help guide visually impaired people through the building.
Officials said the center allows GESMV to add new programs and expand existing ones.
Dayton Works, a new employment program to start early next year, is designed to get economically disadvantaged people out of poverty by helping them move beyond a lower-paying, entry-level job.
A Nurse Aide Training program will be launched in mid-February in partnership with Sinclair Community College to support the Dayton Works program and other GESMV clients.
The Medical Equipment Loan program, which provides wheelchairs, walkers and other items free to people who are uninsured, under-insured or have a short-term injury, will now have the capacity to serve 2,500 people annually — up from 75 people served last year.
The Goodwill Community Foundation computer lab will assist 25 percent more people with their job searches on a daily basis.
Graceworks’ Consumer Credit Counseling Service will relocate to the GESMV campus.
Seven buildings at the northeast corner of South Main and Lincoln streets were demolished to make room for the center, including several dilapidated vacant properties.
The agency received nearly $5 million in New Market Tax Credits and exceeded its $5 million capital campaign.
The new center “will help people who are economically disadvantaged and people with disabilities for many, many years to come. The community has really rallied together to make that possible,” Detrick said.