March 1, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Vision Loss Resources and Contract Production Services Recognized by Minnesota Business Magazine as an Outstanding Social Enterprise
Vision Loss Resources and Contract Production Services were recognized Thursday, February 25, with Minnesota Business Magazine’s Community Impact Award for an outstanding social enterprise —as a company that exists primarily to address social or environmental issues.
“We are thrilled to receive this award,” said Kate Grathwol, President and CEO of Vision Loss Resources. “More than one hundred years after our founding, Vision Loss Resources remains a vibrant, innovative, and trusted source for comprehensive services and support for people who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired.”
Grathwol attributed many factors to the organization’s success. “Adaptability, forward thinking, and indispensable programs and services have all been key components of our ability to deliver on our mission,” she said.
What sets Vision Loss Resources (VLR) apart from other non-for-profit organizations, according to Grathwol, is that the organization was an early pioneer of the social enterprise business model.
Vision Loss Resources operates Contract Production Services (CPS), the for-profit business enterprise that provides high-quality, fast-turn packaging, assembly, and manufacturing services. CPS invests 100 percent of its profits into VLR and the community it serves, and it began operations in the 1950s—long before “social enterprise” was in vogue.
As an early champion of the social enterprise business model, VLR recognized a demand in the marketplace and the potential to translate for-profit best practices into a social good. Earned revenue from CPS contributes to a stable and diversified funding stream that enables VLR to advance its mission, expand its impact, and create innovative new programming. This positions VLR among the most highly-regarded, top-performing not-for-profit organizations in the Twin Cities.
Linda Guzman, Director of Manufacturing at CPS, said the business has built relationships with some of the largest companies throughout the Twin Cities and the Midwest, including General Mills, Hormel, Best Buy, Caribou Coffee, Kohl’s, and others. Most clients have been with CPS for more than 20 years, and CPS maintains a preferred supplier designation with 3M.
“Our commitment to quality and lean manufacturing strategy makes us an appealing option for businesses to contract locally and, in so doing, to support the blind, deafblind, and visually impaired community and their families and caregivers,” said Guzman. “In other words, CPS allows companies to outsource for a cause.”
Grathwol and Guzman were joined at the awards dinner by Rick Schroeder of Midland Paper and Packaging, a longtime customer and vendor of CPS, and Scott Degendorfer, senior planner for CPS.
“Operating as a social enterprise means that CPS and its employees have the opportunity to share with the for-profit business sector a passion and motivation for addressing a social issue that doesn’t receive much attention,” said Guzman. And with support from CPS, service providers and rehabilitation instructors at Vision Loss Resources are able to serve thousands of people every year and demonstrate that there is life after vision loss—and that life can be really good.
ABOUT VISION LOSS RESOURCES: Vision Loss Resources is the largest provider of services for people living with blindness and vision loss in Minnesota. For more than 100 years, we have changed lives throughout the metro area through in-home visits, counseling, teaching independent living skills, and providing information and support to families and caregivers. We have served 14,000 people since 2000 and have provided over 70,000 services. To find out more about Vision Loss Resources services and programming, visit www.visionlossresources.org.