Mid-Iowa Workshops, Inc. celebrates 50 years

Open house slated for Sept. 27

Mid-Iowa Workshops, Inc. — MIW for short — is a private, non-profit company that employs workers with physical and cognitive disabilities, working with them to build job and social skills and prepare them for careers out in the community. The company will mark its 50th anniversary in business at a “Golden Together” open house, on Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its facility, located at 909 S. 14th Ave.

“We will offer guests a tour of the facility, and we will have refreshments,” said MIW President/CEO Rich Byers who has been employed at MIW in some capacity since 1979. “It will be a come and go open house and everyone is welcome.”

MIW offers skill building to its 80 workers, who work on average between 2-5 days per week. Around 25 businesses from all parts of the country, including several in Marshalltown, recruit MIW workers to package, label, assemble, sew, sort, collate, bag, and recycle their products and goods. The company employes 22 full and part-time staff that keep the organization running and provide supervision, training, and support of its workers.

The idea to start MIW dates to July 1965 when a planning committee formed, organized by Reuben Gottfried, the then-president of ARC of Marshall County. The board applied for incorporation of Mid-Iowa Workshops on June 20, 1966, opening its doors in 1967. Gottfried was named first executive director. The first MIW facility was headquartered in a building located at the Central Iowa Fairgrounds in Marshalltown. Needing more space to accommodate its expanding enterprise, the facility was moved to its current locale in 1975, with operations officially beginning there on July 24, 1976.

“Sixty-five to 70 percent of our revenue we get from production, with 25 percent coming from funding through Medicaid, then the rest from donations,” Byers said. “We have some very loyal customers who keep doing business with us.”

New workers are assessed and undergo training before being assigned to a department.

“Workers have a say in what department they work in, and we try to rotate them so they don’t get bored,” Byers said. “The ultimate goal of this career internship program is to move workers out of the program and into jobs in the community.”

To apply for services at MIW, submit an application (a case manager can assist with this). People must be age 18 and older, have a documented disability, possess basic self-help skills, have a funding source (such as Medicaid), and be able to arrange transportation to and from work.

To reach MIW, call: 641-752-3697. Byers may be reached at: rbyers@miwi.org.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com