R.I., Conn. Goodwill operations merge

PROVIDENCE – In an attempt to increase its retail foothold in Rhode Island the Connecticut and Rhode Island Goodwill Industries operations merged effective July 1, the nonprofits announced Monday.

Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island, which was founded in 1864 and is headquartered in Providence, will join the North Haven-based 88-year-old Connecticut operation under the existing name Goodwill Industries of Southern New England.

The new entity will join its resources focusing on skills advancement and employment of disadvantaged citizens including those with physical and mental disabilities among other barriers to employment.

Both Jeffrey Machado, president of Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island in Providence, and H. Richard Borer, Jr., president of Goodwill Industries of Southern New England in North Haven, Conn., will remain presidents of their respective institutions until Jan. 1, 2019.

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In the merger announcement, Goodwill Industries of Southern New England said “no changes in management or other reorganization [will be made] until Jan. 1, 2019.”

Marcus O. Notz, a Goodwill Industries of Southern New England spokesman, explained the organization is loathe to interrupt any ongoing services provided to local residents by either the Connecticut or Rhode Island branches and therefore will hold off on any reorganization.

As of Monday, he added, it was too early to tell what, if any, staffing and management implications the merger would have given the “bare bones” figures of the Rhode Island branch.

Notz said employment in the Rhode Island operation was close to 30 people while there were roughly 470 individuals employed in the Connecticut organization. He expects no redundancies to be announced this or next year by the group for staff in the Ocean State.

One aim of the merger is to transfer the success the Connecticut entity has seen in retail sales to the Ocean State-based operation. Currently, there are 13 Goodwill secondhand retail stores, one retail outlet and multiple donation points in operation in south central and eastern Connecticut from which all proceeds go to fund services provided by the nonprofit.

While Rhode Island is host to more than 50 Goodwill donation collection receptacles in 24 towns, there are no secondhand retail stores in the state from which the group could financially benefit.

Machado said in prepared remarks: “We’ve identified sites for new stores where donated clothing and other goods can generate much-needed funding for our programs, and where our clients can find jobs and gain work experience.”

Notz said merger negotiations were commenced among the neighboring regional operations “four or five years ago.” Such a joining was pursued, he said, so the groups could benefit from each other’s expertise.

“Connecticut is heavily invested in programs that deal with a lot of people with heavy disabilities who have higher barriers to employment because of their physical or mental disability,” Notz told PBN in an interview Monday. Whereas, “the folks in Rhode Island are very good at workforce development [and] computer skills” and can lend those programs to the population served by the Connecticut branch.

Both nonprofits are part of the national nonprofit organization Goodwill Industries International Inc.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.