The Association for Individual Development will be the latest group to try its hand at selling concessions from The Centre of Elgin if council members approve an agreement for a job training program Wednesday.
AID serves people with developmental, physical and mental disabilities across the Fox Valley. The agency was looking for a site for its vocational skills program and the city was looking for a vendor that would be interested in The Centre even though the chances of making a profit are slim.
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Several vendors have come and gone in The Centre since it opened, none staying very long or making money on the venture. Demand is noticeable at times, but not consistently.
"For events on the weekend there is demand, but never enough to attract somebody in there on a more regular basis," said Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal.
Dana Ossola-Menz, vocational program manager for AID, said the job training services are funded by the state to assist individuals in work placement. AID also offers a more sheltered training center where clients are paid for production and warehouse work contracted by area employers.
"Our program in the community is more for people who have worked in the past and are displaced at this time and need the retraining," Ossola-Menz said.
The unemployment rate for employable people with disabilities in Kane County is 55 percent, according to a memo to council members on the proposal.
Ossola-Menz said many employers with shrinking budgets are looking to hire people capable of multiple tasks. Instead of just needing a person to stock shelves, they need people who can interact with customers and be a cashier.
She said several AID clients feel insecure operating a cash register under pressure with a line of customers waiting. The Centre's training environment would allow an AID staff person to support the individual employees in overwhelming situations and give them the chance to learn from experience.
"We have this opportunity to be there to help them and work with them on anything that they need to improve," Ossola-Menz said.
If the city council approves a test run for the partnership, giving AID the chance to run the concession stand on Saturdays through the winter for basketball season, workers would be paid minimum wage to do inventory checks, stock the stand, interact with customers and work the register.
If the arrangement happens to turn a profit, AID will split proceeds with the city 50/50.
Council members will have to give the proposal a preliminary look during the committee of the whole meeting Wednesday and then sign off one final time Sept. 26.