Cleveland company in second chance business

May 5, 2016 -  By

23630605473_50a2aab42c_zAmidst industry-wide distress over hiring and labor issues, Rich Alvarez took a different approach to hiring by targeting residents facing barriers to employment, according to Freshwater Cleveland. 

His company, New Life Landscaping in Cleveland offers landscape maintenance, weed removal and some design/build.

Prior to starting New Life, the 46-year-old Alvarez served as a police officer for many years and ran his own landscape company on the side. The police work inspired his latest endeavor.

“I noticed the same people coming back over and over,” he says. “They’d say they couldn’t find a job. It was easier for them to spend time in jail where they’d get fed and have a roof over their heads.”

New Life currently has two employees, whose backgrounds—as ex-offenders and otherwise impoverished individuals—make them nearly unemployable, Alvarez told Freshwater. The company is currently seeking additional seasonal help. One source from which he hopes to hire are nonprofits like the Oriana House, a chemical dependency treatment center and community corrections agency in Cleveland.

His goal is to train employees for franchise ownership, and he hopes those employees will eventually pay it forward by employing people in similar situations from which they came. New Life is hoping to find a qualified franchisee through this process and will front $30,000 to launch a prospective business, with the franchisee paying back the initial investment over time, according to Freshwater.

The company’s model is based on similar ventures, like Columbus, Ohio-based Clean Turn, that train formerly incarcerated people to fill various service jobs.

Alvarez hopes his efforts contribute to growing a skilled workforce in Cleveland.

“There’s lots of parallels between the city of Cleveland and people here who are facing barriers,” says Alvarez. “This is a Rust Belt town on the rebound that’s reinventing itself. We’re giving people left behind by society a chance to rebuild themselves as well.”

Photo: CarlosJRoman / photo on flickr

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