The opening of a new business Thursday in West Columbia is good news for shoppers and for job hunters.
Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina will open its new Midlands headquarters at 2119 Sunset Boulevard to the public Thursday at 9 a.m.
The 35,000 square foot facility will house a Goodwill retail store, donation center, outlet store, Goodwill Job Connection and administrative offices. The retail store and Job Connection will open Thursday with the outlet store set to follow on July 7.
The store offers the usual Goodwill bargains for shoppers in the 9,000 square foot retail store and the 8,000 square foot outlet store (where clothes and books are sold by the pound). It’s the first Goodwill store in South Carolina to offer retail and outlet stores in the same location, but all the items up for purchase serve a larger purpose.
“It all funnels into job services,” said Crystal Hardesty, director of marketing and public relations for Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina. Hardesty said 92 cents of every dollar spent at Goodwill is used to assist people in finding jobs. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Goodwill helped more than 11,000 people in the Midlands and Upstate find jobs.
Goodwill Job Connections provide free assistance to help job seekers connect with potential employers and find permanent employment. Services include access to resources like computers and the internet, fax machines, telephones, and job leads and referrals. A trained employment specialist is on site to assist individuals with their job search. “Really we’re here to help in lots of different ways,” Hardesty said.
Karen Carter, now employed at Walmart, is one of the Job Connection success stories. When out of work, she visited the Garners Ferry Road Goodwill daily, working with an employment specialist who Gordon said made all the difference.
“She just was very helpful. She motivated me,” Gordon said. “It was very hands on and she was there for me.”
Gordon has been with Walmart for more than a year after landing the job with help from Goodwill, and said “I’m totally on solid ground right now.”
Hardesty said she and her colleagues are motivated by stories like Gordon’s. “It’s amazing for us to talk to people who’ve come through and see what a difference a job makes,” she said.
Goodwill also provides job training programs to help people gain the skills needed to begin careers in manufacturing, food service, retail, call centers, cleaning management, and as Certified Nurse Aides. The Job Connection will have a training room that can be used for industry-specific programs and job fairs.
A total of 37 Goodwill associates will work in the new retail location, including 23 new employees and 14 who are transferring from other Midlands locations.
“We are pleased to be able to offer the Midlands a one-stop shop for all of our services with the addition of this new headquarters,” said Patrick Michaels, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina. “The new location is convenient and accessible not only for people in West Columbia, but also for job seekers throughout the Midlands.”
“It’s just a great location,” Hardesty added. “It covers an area where we did not have job services.
Those visiting the store Thursday can register to win an Apple iPad Mini in a drawing will be held on Sunday, July 3. No purchase is necessary, and those who enter need not be present to win.