RACER Trust and Goodwill’s Green Works, Inc., Partner to Promote Recycling and Create Job Opportunities in Southeast Michigan
PSILANTI, Mich. — The RACER Trust has teamed with Green Works, Inc., a non-profit subsidiary of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, in a partnership that both adds value to surplus RACER assets and creates job opportunities for men and women facing employment challenges.
RACER is retaining contractors to remove surplus machinery and equipment from former General Motors Corp. properties that are now owned and managed by RACER. For properties in the Greater Detroit area, contractors retained to remove machinery and equipment must agree to subcontract with Goodwill’s Green Works where appropriate. The contractor then determines how many Green Works employees are to be on the job, and which tasks they are to perform.
“A key element of RACER’s mission is to create opportunities that will help our communities flourish,” said Elliott P. Laws, RACER Trustee. “This is another step we can take to support and build up our communities while at the same time performing the Trust’s activities in an environmentally sensitive manner. Our goals are aligned with those of Goodwill’s Green Works and Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, and we’re proud to be a part of their efforts to create a better tomorrow through job training, education and placement.”
The RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust was created last year by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to clean up and position for redevelopment properties and other facilities owned by GM before its 2009 bankruptcy. When the RACER Trust was formed, it owned more than 44 million square feet of industrial space in 14 states, principally in the Midwest and Northeast.
Eleven employees from Goodwill’s Green Works are on site at the historic Willow Run Powertrain Plant in Ypsilanti, where they are working to disassemble motors, control panels, manufacturing assemblies and other equipment that was used to make transmissions. Various components including steel, aluminum and copper wiring have a higher market value when separated than when left intact in unused equipment, so by taking apart the machines and harvesting their parts, Goodwill’s Green Works is creating additional revenue sources.
Goodwill’s Green Works sells the components it harvests in the commodities market or to manufacturers for reuse. Net proceeds from the sale of components harvested from RACER sites will be divided between RACER and Goodwill’s Green Works.
Green Works was founded in 2010 as a subsidiary of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. Green Works is an extension of activities that have existed for decades between Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit and DTE Energy. Goodwill has harvested and recycled usable components from surplus equipment and storm-damaged power lines for DTE Energy.
“Goodwill’s Green Works is the intersection of a social enterprise and a non-profit,” said Jay Wilber, President of Green Works. “Our environmentally friendly asset recovery and recycling operations create jobs and generate revenue for the fight against regional unemployment and poverty. Our employees are well-trained to conduct safe, efficient asset recovery, and they are highly motivated to work and be productive. Our men and women appreciate the opportunity, and it shows.”
In 2011, the 60 employees of Goodwill’s Green Works harvested and processed more than 12 million pounds of surplus materials. Goodwill’s Green Works received a 2011 Michigan Green Leaders citation from the Detroit Free Press.
Grant Trigger, Michigan Cleanup Manager for the RACER Trust, learned about Goodwill’s Green Works and contacted its Sales Manager, Bob Bochenek.
“Goodwill’s Green Works really embodies what we’re all about — conducting safe, effective and efficient environmental cleanups and assisting communities by helping their citizens secure good, steady jobs,” Mr. Trigger said. “Sustainability and resource recovery are essential both to sound environmental stewardship and to maximizing the value of our assets. I’m extremely pleased to partner with Goodwill’s Green Works, and look forward to forging relationships with similar community-based organizations beyond Southeast Michigan. These are life-changing opportunities.”
Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit’s “Flip the Script” program, in partnership with the State of Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), has trained more than 1,000 people since October 2005. Currently, Goodwill’s Green Works employs 37 returning citizens from the correctional system. Goodwill’s Green Works anticipates more trainees in the coming year.
While the MDOC grant provides seed funding to provide education and skill development, the revenue generated by contracts and asset recovery has enabled Goodwill’s Green Works to grow and provide additional employment opportunities.
“This is about helping someone who needs the help,” Mr. Wilber said. “At the same time, our employees are generating income for the companies that hire us by maximizing the value of their surplus assets and turning them into cash.”
Cliff Lewis, RACER’s Site Manager for Willow Run, praised the performance of Goodwill’s Green Works employees.
“Goodwill’s Green Works promised us employees who were trained, trusted and ready to work, and they’ve certainly delivered,” Mr. Lewis said. “I’m very proud of our association with Goodwill’s Green Works. To me it captures the first letter in RACER — revitalizing. We’re supporting opportunities in the work force and in our communities that otherwise might not be available.”
RACER is one of the largest holders of industrial property in the United States and is the largest environmental response and remediation trust in U.S. history.
To learn more about Goodwill’s Green Works, please visit www.goodwillsgreenworks.org.