Ever since purchasing the Williams Building last fall, Main Street Guthrie Center has been working hard to renovate the two unused retail spaces and find new businesses to lease them. After months of repairs, renovations and volunteer work, an organization is finally preparing to move into the old Breadeaux Pizza location.
Genesis Development, a private 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for people with disabilities, hopes to be moved into the new location within the coming weeks.
Currently, Genesis Development has a small location at 2002 State Street in Guthrie Center, however, with recent growth and expansion in Guthrie County, the organization has outgrown its former office.
“In the past, all that’s been going on in Guthrie has been an extension of what’s happening in Jefferson,” explained Jesse Akers, newly appointed Associate Director of the Central Region. “Over the past year, we’ve really expanded a lot, mostly due to our employment services programs with the high schools and with adults, so Guthrie has gotten big enough now that we will become our own site.”
While Genesis already works with schools in Panora and Guthrie Center, the new location will allow the organization to begin programs at Audubon High School and West Central Valley as well.
“We help (adults and students) obtain community employment if that’s possible,” Akers explained. “We work with high school juniors and seniors, helping them get job shadows, job placements and other types of vocational training so that they’re more prepared when they graduate.”
The expansion into Guthrie and Audubon counties is expected to create three to four new job positions that will be based out of Guthrie Center. Currently, Genesis is looking to hire for its school programs and its group home in Panora. The organization is also looking to hire a vocational trainer, who would take on many different roles. Positions will be posted at http://genesisdevelopment.com/employment-opportunity/ as they are made official.
While a larger staff will now be based out of Guthrie Center, much of the work Genesis takes on does not require use of the office, and the space has been designed with this in mind. Genesis has worked closely with Main Street Guthrie Center to create an ideal setup to fit the organization’s needs.
“We had looked at other places, but once we figured out a plan with (MSGC), there was no question that this was what we wanted to do,” said Akers. “We got to imagine our own offices, and they helped us create it.”
The retail space has been remodeled to feature an open front room, three offices and a large back room. Akers thinks the front space will include employee work stations while the back space could be used for staff meetings and training purposes.
In preparing the space for a renter, many community members have volunteered their time and efforts. Kirk Davis’ shop class at AC/GC High School has spent much of their class time assisting with the project, and a volunteer group has been meeting on Saturday mornings.
Even though there is work yet to be done, Genesis is already making plans for furniture and office decorations.
“Some of our office furniture is going to be interesting because we are reutilizing some things that either belonged to the county or one of the schools,” said Akers. “So we’ll have little pieces of Guthrie Center all throughout our building once we get everything moved in here.”
Even a small part of Breadeaux Pizza will remain in the building. The lights that once hung in the restaurant have been painted and will be reused by Genesis.
A tentative move in date is slated for February 15, but weather and other factors may impact when the renovations are complete. By expanding Genesis Development, Akers hopes that families who have children with disabilities will remain in the community instead of moving to a bigger city to receive the services they need.
“We’re definitely excited to get started in here,” said Akers. “I think we’re just going to keep growing and expanding because the types of services that we provide are being offered more and more. Everything that the big city has, we’re going to be able to offer on a smaller scale.”