In November, Cook Group Inc. announced plans to invest $7 million to build a 40,000-square-foot assembly plant on the northeast side of Indianapolis, creating 100 jobs for residents in an impoverished neighborhood.

The project is being developed as a public-private partnership with Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, The Indianapolis Foundation, and the United Northeast Community Development Corp. Employees will assemble medical devices, such as catheters and needles, for Cook, but they will be employees of Goodwill Commercial Services.

“It is a win for everyone involved, including the community itself,” says Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Group. “There’s a lack of hope that’s born from generational poverty, from decades of manufacturing jobs leaving our communities, and from lack of access to real opportunity. We hope that this model can…inspire other businesses and organizations to join us.”

Starting pay for employees with no experience will be $13 per hour, but some positions will pay $16 per hour. The facility will also offer support services and manufacturing skills training. Employees will have access to mental and physical health support, soft skills training and an opportunity to advance their education.

“We’ve been a supplier of Cook for a few years now. But more importantly, Cook has come to understand the driving force behind Goodwill, our mission, our vision and values,” says Kent Kramer, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana. “Goodwill’s experience in manufacturing, coupled with our approach to employee development and support, is a large reason why [Cook] felt that Goodwill would be a great partner in this endeavor.”

What a fantastic idea! Northeast Indianapolis has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Surely, this is a business model that can be replicated across Indiana and the U.S. “The challenges of generational poverty, substance use disorder, and barriers to education confront countless communities across Indiana. If owners and leaders of companies in Indiana join us in bringing jobs and opportunity back, we believe it’s possible to rebuild the middle class in our state,” says Yonkman.

We applaud Cook, Goodwill and everyone involved in this project, and we encourage other manufacturers to follow their lead.