New Goodwill campus to host 4 full-time charity offices

Goodwill Opportunity Campus under construction
Goodwill Opportunity Campus under construction Goodwill of the Southern Piedmont

Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont announced Thursday that four nonprofits will open full-time offices at its new $22 million Opportunity Campus, a groundbreaking project in west Charlotte that will house job training, job placement and job creation enterprises spread across 18.5 acres.

The nonprofits are Charlotte Community Health Clinic, Common Wealth Charlotte, Charlotte Metro Credit Union and The Center for Community Transitions. Their offices will be in the site’s planned 160,000-square-foot Leon Levine Opportunity Center, now under construction.

Work began on the site in the first quarter of the year and is set to finish in early 2016, officials said.

Goodwill expects the site to serve as a comprehensive collection of resources for people seeking job training, as well as businesses hoping to find qualified employees.

Each of the nonprofits invited to set up an office on the campus is considered a key component of accomplishing that mission. It’s possible more charities will add offices to the site in months to come, officials said.

“What makes this different from other efforts in the community is that this is not about cohabitation of a site. It’s about integrating services,” said Michael Elder, head of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont.

“We are looking at which services are most important to the clients we serve, and finding organizations that are willing to work with us in an integrated fashion.”

An example, he said, is the Center for Community Transitions, a nonprofit that helps people with a criminal record or recent stint in prison get their lives back on track, including finding jobs. More than 35 percent of the clients Goodwill works with in Mecklenburg County have some type of criminal record, officials said.

Myra Clark, head of the Center for Community Transitions, said her agency helped 1,070 people last year through its LifeWorks! program, which will relocate to the Goodwill campus.

“Goodwill’s clients will benefit from the programs we offer and some of our clients will benefit from the services Goodwill offers,” Clark said.

As for the other nonprofits moving to the campus: Charlotte Community Health Clinic will offer comprehensive medical care for low-income and uninsured individuals; Common Wealth Charlotte will provide low-wage workers with financial education and tailored loan products; and Charlotte Metro Credit Union will provide financial services for those needing a fresh start.

Goodwill also intends to relocate its headquarters from Freedom Drive to the campus. In all, the agency expects to relocate seven operations from around the city to the campus, which is just north of Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Most of the money needed to build the 160,000-square-foot facility has been raised, officials said.

Goodwill committed $14 million of its own money and launched a capital campaign to raise $8 million from the community. To date, it has raised $6.1 million, including $1.2 million from the Leon Levine Foundation and $500,000 from Bank of America.

The campus will serve more than 10,400 people in its first year of operation, an increase of 23 percent over the current number helped at the agency’s career development center on Freedom Drive. In 2014, Goodwill provided employment services free of charge to more than 13,000 individuals. It also placed 1,100 people in jobs.