(Link to "Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick" original article)
A Fort Wayne nonprofit that helps ex-offenders return to the work force has officially opened an expanded location. Blue Jacket Inc. cut the ribbon today on a new facility that includes a wood shop, tool bank and business incubator for alumni. Executive Director Tony Hudson discussed the statewide interest in the program on a recent edition of Inside INdiana Business Television.
Hudson says the four-week program is designed to help participants overcome employers' concerns about trust and credibility. He says businesses are now coming to the organization looking for employees.
He says Blue Jacket was founded based on what he calls startling statistics. He says re-arrest drops 40% when someone has stable employment after release.
The organization may soon expand. Hudson says he has heard from people in multiple counties saying they would like to implement the program.
Blue Jacket says the new facility features the following:
1. A 7,800 square foot workshop area will host a large clothing bank/professional apparel thrift store as well as a potential wood shop, tool bank, and business incubator for alumni.
2. A community garden installed 3 years ago by the Catherine Kasper Place is one of the most prolific gardens in town.
3. A shared workspace/waiting area will make Starbucks decor look out of date. NeighborLink Fort Wayne (tenant/partner) and Blue Jacket will be recruiting other social innovators to share ideas in the space and help transform the corridor, the community.
4. Two state of the art classrooms will provide Blue Jacket the capacity to not only train it's existing ex-offender client base, but host the new trainings for other hard-to-employ populations, and enough space and time for community groups to gather for celebrations or meetings.
Source: Blue Jacket Inc.