Work, Inc. sees EPA grant boosting Dot operation

Local nonprofit Work, Inc., which specializes in providing employment and training to people with disabilities, will move forward in developing its old North Quincy headquarters with the help of a federal grant. Company officials hope to use this initiative to financially secure the company at its new Dorchester location.

The old 60,000 sq. ft. site at 3 Arlington St. in North Quincy is currently contaminated with metals and chlorinated solvents, remnants from its days as an electronics manufacturing plant. Work, Inc., which has already spent $400,000 on cleaning up the property, rallied the local community and the EPA last fall to make the plot a cleaner, more attractive piece of real estate. The $200,000 grant will help remediate the site, which will then be developed.

Work, Inc. spokesman James Cawley said that the company would like to see the land eventually play host to a housing complex for the disabled, although he couldn’t promise that it would. The Environmental Protection Agency brownfield grant allots funds for community involvement events, with the hope of even improving the economic situation of the area.

After redeveloping the land, Work, Inc. plans on using any money resulting from the deal to pay off the bond on its current headquarters on Beach St.

Work, Inc. has seen a significant drop in public funding since 2008. “It used to be ‘Ok, we’re receiving funding,’ but now nonprofits have to go out and actually make it,” Cawley said.

The company currently relies on the Medicare program for 60 percent of its funding and works to lobby local politicians and navigate existing disability legislation – a constant effort.

The solution, Cawley said, is to redefine the way that human services operations function, focusing more on creating a sustainable business. “We have to make ourselves a business that does human services, not just a human services business.”

For its part, Work, Inc. serves as an assembly and distribution center for a nail manufacturing company, a soup-maker, and for the U.S. Military assembling IV bags for the Veterans Administration. Two hundred fifty workers come through the Beach St. headquarters each day to work paid jobs on assembly and packaging teams. Many workers are from Quincy, but there are an increasing number of workers coming from the Dorchester area.

Work, Inc. has made a business-minded philosophy the focus of its annual awards ceremony – set to take place on June 23. The award ceremony, hosted by Councillor Maureen Feeney, will feature awards for employee of the year and vocational performer of the year. It will take place at the IBEW Hall at 256 Freeport St. at 6 p.m.