HOBART | A new era in TradeWinds Services began Thursday with the symbolic interior groundbreaking at the agency’s future home where officials hope to be located in September.
Crews from Calumet City-based Hasse Construction are already renovating the interior of the former AmeriClean building at 3198 E. 83rd Place, tearing out walls and installing underground infrastructure.
The exterior will also be remodeled and a large parking lot built, according to Jon Gold, TradeWinds CEO.
The 55,000-square-foot building was bought by an anonymous donor, and the renovations will cost between $3 million and $3.5 million, he said.
“We have financing in place and are in the process of organizing fundraising events throughout the construction,” Gold said.
The agency’s first capital campaign will also involve meetings with private donors from business and industry, said Larry Alt, treasurer and member of the TradeWinds board of directors.
“We need to tell the story of TradeWinds,” Alt said. “We are investing in the community.”
That story began about 50 years ago at 5901 W. 7th Ave. in Gary.
TradeWinds serves between 600 and 700 adults and children with developmental disabilities through sheltered workshops, daycare programs and on-site treatment program.
The agency also provides therapy services for students with disabilities in the Gary school system and staffs residential group homes and waiver apartments for adults with disabilities.
“We will not abandon anyone we currently serve in Gary,” Alt said, adding that TradeWinds “is limited by logistics (in Gary).”
Several additions have been made over the last 50 years to that original facility, Gold said.
The new Hobart facility gives TradeWinds an opportunity to expand services to more Lake County residents, he said.
“We will use the whole facility. Our administrative offices will be here and we’ll have about 140 of our 225 employees here. We will have a special needs children’s daycare and an integrated daycare facility,” Gold said.
The integrated daycare will be open allow youngsters with and without disabilities to be together, said Connie Skozen, director of marketing and development.
A.D.A.P.T., a daycare program for adults with disabilities, will also be housed at the Hobart facility.
Gold said he also plans to have a sign shop, a sewing shop where TradeWinds clients do sewing for U.S. Department of Defense contracts, and another production area where adults with disabilities can do assembly or other jobs for local businesses.
“Daily we will serve about 150 adults and 30 children,” Gold said, adding that transportation to and from the Hobart TradeWinds is in the works but “is always an issue.”