Forbes Names Goodwill to It’s List of 25 Most Inspiring Companies

Forbes did this?  You mean the Forbes that rated Rockford as a Miserable City? Yep, that’s the one! And it was this past October, before the Miserable Rating.

Guess what, Rockford has a Goodwill organization headquartered right here.  Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois and Wisconsin Stateline Area (GINIWSA) operates in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. They oversee 9 stores in 18 counties and employ 300 plus employees.

Most of us would think of Goodwill as a retail store front or a place to donate various goods. But as Sam Schmitz, President would say “the revenue from the sale of their donated goods is invested locally and makes a difference in the lives of people with barriers in their community”. The impact on the local economy is short of stunning.

In a recent presentation to the People You Should Know attendees, Schmitz outlined how his Goodwill operation impacts our area.  Serving 5,145 people of Northern Illinois in 2012, it pays out $4 million in wages and contributes $670,000 in sales taxes. The donated goods represents 9 plus million pounds of stuff that is kept out of landfills.  What isn’t sold in the stores is shipped to handlers in Texas who either recycle the textiles or they ship in bulk to third world countries where the need for these items is great. Nothing reaches the landfill, it’s all circulated in a Green way.

Serving people is what Goodwill is all about. Over 1,700 individuals were involved with training and employment programs and 126 were placed in jobs. Besides providing financial education services to 191 people, they provided over 2,000 free income tax filings with tax refunds totaling over $2 million!

Beside doing all these services to help local people, Goodwill’s annual Diva Fashion Show raises money that is used for scholarships for persons with disabilities; last year they awarded 28.  The April 2013 fashion show raised over $36,000, most of which will go to scholarships.

Unlike some other businesses that may not be growing or shrinking, GINIWSA has doubled it’s revenue since Schmitz took over as President about 6 years ago.  Plans are to increase the number of stores and that will mean being able to help even more people who need the services that GINIWSA provides.

It’s nice to know that Forbes recognizes some of the good things that Rockford has to offer.