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Social Enterprises May Be the Solution for Wisconsin Companies Fighting to Maintain their Workforce

By January 15, 2021No Comments

VARC, Inc. solves workforce shortages by accessing America’s largest untapped resource: populations with disabilities.

by Liz Filter, President and CEO of VARC, Inc.

Celebrating its 45th year of operation, Vernon Area Rehabilitation Center (VARC, Inc.) is becoming a popular name with businesses throughout Wisconsin. Based in rural Viroqua, VARC, Inc. grew from a small six-person business to an operation that maintains over 470 employees. Today, with five production facilities and a smattering of satellite offices throughout southwest and southcentral Wisconsin, VARC, Inc. specializes in customized contract assembly, packaging, and other fulfillment services for a wide variety of manufacturers.

But something unique exists within the scope of VARC, Inc. that is both uncommon and highly sought after. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, their mission is to provide employment and other skills training opportunities for individuals with varying abilities. Of more than 470 VARC, Inc. employees, roughly 250 have disabilities. Through its programming, VARC, Inc. provides Wisconsin communities with valuable assistance for disabled residents typically hindered by employment obstacles. They work individually with each client, customizing services such as recreational programming, residential services, and other care services. VARC, Inc. accesses this overlooked human resource by providing customized employment training and supports local companies in need of assembly, packaging services, and other contract jobs.

VARC’s unique model affords large and small manufacturers, including their leadership, employees, and customers, the satisfaction of knowing their partnership is supporting individuals that often have the fewest opportunities. In fact, while the national unemployment rate amongst all working-age adults is at an all-time low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “In 2019, (only) 19.3 percent of persons with a disability were employed.” VARC is aiming to change that statistic, and according to President and CEO, Liz Filter, “We’re gaining incredible traction within the business community, providing hundreds of jobs for individuals with varying abilities, both at VARC and through our job placement services in many Wisconsin cities.”

VARC connects Wisconsin companies with quality workers that are reliable and cost-effective.

The labor and employment crisis has been a considerable challenge for the manufacturing industry. This has proven to be a substantive opportunity for VARC to expand its capabilities, offer its services in new areas of the state, and importantly, open doors for new clients with disabilities. Many of the individuals working as Production Employees in VARC’s training facilities advance into new positions with other businesses in their communities, fueling local economies, and assisting with workforce hiring, which is desperately needed in many small towns and communities across the state.

As business cultures shift to include a focus on diversity, community engagement, and social enterprise efforts, VARC maintains its place as a unique labor solution driven by quality and innovation, combined with a model of training and opportunity for Wisconsin communities.

“Our exceptional fusion of innovation and inspired, energetic leadership has positioned us to greatly assist Wisconsin businesses in not only meeting their productivity objectives but to provide an avenue to enrich local communities.”

Liz Filter, President | CEO of VARC, Inc.

Contact VARC at its corporate headquarters | 608-637-3934 | or visit one of their production facilities in Viroqua, La Crosse, Reedsburg, Richland Center, Sparta, or Mauston, WI.