Hope Network Opens Training Plant

August 9, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Hope Network West Michigan has started an industrial operations center to better get the jobless into jobs.

The 40,000-square-foot site, located at 4080 Roger B. Chaffee Blvd., marks a significant expansion in HNWM’s facilities, which now total 130,500 square feet devoted to work services available to people with developmental disabilities.

On board to help celebrate the grand opening were Mayor John Logie; Jim Tuinstra, executive director of HNWM; Verne Barry, former Faith Inc. president; and Bruce Ryskamp of Zondervan Books.

HNWM has contracts with more than 20 local businesses. The work is primarily packaging and packaging assembly. The operation has averaged $350,000 a month in subcontracted work, but the workload is steadily increasing. Since 1995, the per-month average has quadrupled, and recent months have been around $500,000. This steady growth has resulted in the need for additional space.

When the Faith Inc. program joined with Hope Network, the need for expansion became even more pressing.

“To make the Faith program viable, we need to provide work experiences for 90 to 100 people,” said Tuinstra. “In addition we want to give people with developmental disabilities more opportunities for work experience. The Roger B. Chaffee site will be a transitional step as they move on to jobs in the community. Many people start in our facility on South Division in work training. This site will be a step up, providing more bonuses and other incentives for promotions.”

He said everyone involved should benefit from the expansion.

“This is a positive move in many ways. We expand opportunities for homeless workers in the Faith program. We increase the variety of work available to people with developmental disabilities. And we can serve more community companies through our subcontract work,” said Tuinstra.

Participants in the Hope Network employment program receive the training and experience needed to prepare them for competitive employment while earning competitive wages, and businesses get subcontracting work done efficiently and cost-effectively.

In May, Nicholas Plastics presented a Superior Performance Award to the Hope Network West Michigan/Kent Vocational Options program. The program for young adults with developmental disabilities completed nearly 400,000 assemblies without a single reject and provided 100 percent on-time delivery. Tuinstra said he wants that type of work record to be the norm for the agency.     

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