With more than seven out of 10 people with vision problems unemployed, Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind leaders hope to brighten their prospects with a new Opportunity Center annex.
Lighthouse will start small, with part-time work for three people at the jobs center at 5944 Pine Hill Road, Executive Director Sylvia Stinson-Perez said.
Two people will do light assembly work, while the third person concentrates on e-commerce for the Lighthouse online store.
Within the first year, the goal is to employ 10 people, Stinson-Perez added.
Potential clients and the public can get their first glimpse of the Opportunity Center at a grand opening 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27, Stinson-Perez said.
West Pasco Chamber of Commerce plans a ribbon cutting at noon.
For reservations, call the Lighthouse main office at (727) 815-0303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We have been really working on this almost two years," Stinson-Perez said. "It's been a huge endeavor for us."
Lighthouse's main office, on Galen Wilson Boulevard, lacked enough space, Stinson-Perez said.
The 3,000 square feet of the annex, on Pine Hill Road, provides "room to grow."
"The success of our Opportunity Center is really going to rest on local, commercial business that shares our vision," Stinson-Perez said.
She added: "We're not asking people to give us money. We're asking them to give us an opportunity to put some people to work."
The Opportunity Center also qualifies for preferential treatment in federal contracts.
"We're looking for many other opportunities" for assembly and packaging, Stinson-Perez said. Lighthouse hired a new marketing manager who is scheduled to start this week.
The Lutz-based Soule Packaging Co. provided subcontract work for the Opportunity Center, Stinson-Perez said. Two workers will put together a piece of a parachute bag.
Soule representatives intend to be at the April 27 grand opening.
The third worker will help Lighthouse with online sales of donated books, audio compact discs and other items.
Funds help support Lighthouse programs.
"It's finally coming to fruition," Stinson-Perez said about the jobs annex. "We learned a lot in this process."
Advisers from the Pasco-Hernando Chapter of SCORE were "extremely helpful," she added.
Local donors stepped up to help the Lighthouse prep the Opportunity Center, Stinson-Perez said.
Bill Rogers, founder of Progressive Air in Port Richey, donated the air-conditioning system for the Pine Hill Road annex.
Marty Smith of Smith Collision Services in New Port Richey donated fencing to secure the air-conditioning units.
Cash Construction Management Co. in Hudson installed the fencing.