Social Entrepreneur Creates Employment Opportunities for All Abilities
CDC Resources is a not-for-profit human services provider with a long tradition of advocacy and services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Currently, CDC serves over 500 individuals and their families each year focusing on five rural counties in northwest central Indiana.
In addition to housing support, daily living instruction and community living programs, CDC Resources also provides meaningful employment opportunities. The agency launched a thrift store in Monticello, IN about 10 years ago. The business grew slowly but after a fire and relocation to a downtown site the venture took off doubling sales and increasing profitability even more. Michael Cruz, Executive Director of the organization, credits a team of dedicated employees who believe in the organization's mission and want to see this store reach its full potential benefitting both CDC and the local community. In addition to creating work for individuals with disabilities the thrift shop profits have supported other essential but underfunded services. With the increased business after moving, CDC felt that it had found a niche market in smaller communities that held promise for other nonprofit organizations confronting an overall decline in funding.
To expand his business model outside of his community, Michael contacted officials at Purdue's Technical Assistance Program.
Purdue management professor Charlene Sullivan and graduate student, Ryan Rendino, reviewed the current financial performance for CDC thrift store operations and provided recommendations on feasibly of expanding operations to new locations across Indiana.
CDC thrift store shared Purdue's expansion recommendations with other Arcs to start-up thrift stores in their community. (Arc of Indiana is a state-wide advocacy organization focusing on issues affecting the lives of individuals with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities). Sullivan said that the project reflects the potential of engaging Purdue students with local business in efforts to expand market opportunities and local resources. To date one agency is almost ready to launch their own thrift store and two other similar organizations, all serving individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in the state, are seriously considering the same path.
“Thanks to Purdue TAP's recommendations, we were able to expand our thrift store business model outside of our community and coordinate with other Arc chapters to create more meaningful employment opportunities. Based on this project, I have learned the importance of social service providers broadening their resources to grow their business as social entrepreneurs.”
— Michael Cruz, Executive Director of CDC Resources