Mousam Valley Mushrooms, in Springvale, Maine, had potential to grow their business, but needed capital and employees to ramp up production. CEI financing allowed the owners to build out their facility, but the company struggled to hire new workers through traditional channels. As a result, supervisors were forced to split their time between primary growing/harvesting tasks and folding delivery boxes in order to keep production moving.
A few months after receiving a loan from CEI, Mousam Valley Mushrooms was introduced to CEI’s workforce solutions team to help fill their employment gap. After an initial site visit and review of the company’s operations, CEI staff recommended a way to reorganize job duties, allowing supervisors to focus on increasing yield, while making other jobs more accessible to individuals with barriers to employment.
The business case behind the CEI proposal was strong – the reorganization of job duties would allow Mousam Valley Mushroom supervisors to focus on increasing productivity. CEI then introduced Mousam Valley to Waban, a social services provider in Sanford contracted by the State of Maine Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to assist individuals who have disabilities get and keep a job. Potential workers receiving vocational rehabilitation services face a variety of barriers to employment, including physical, mental and emotional challenges, but when properly supported, they often become effective and loyal employees, resulting in benefits to both the individual and their employer.
The first employee placed at Mousam Valley through Waban was so successful in a box-folding role that they have been promoted to multiple other duties. In the meantime, three additional individuals receiving vocational rehabilitation services have been placed at the company by Waban. The wages of the workers are subsidized through the vocational rehabilitation program during their training period.
“When CEI first introduced us to the Waban program, I had reservations on how it would be successful. Now, we have hired four very important employees that help us successfully achieve our daily goals. I have also been very proud to see major growth in these individuals.”Aron Gonsalves, Chief Operating Officer, Mousam Valley Mushrooms
For the four employees placed through vocational rehabilitation, jobs at Mousam Valley Mushrooms give them a sense of contributing and being part of a team. The consistency of the work and regular wages also reduce the employee’s reliance on state funds, allowing the state to serve additional individuals with needs.
To continue their growth, Mousam Valley Mushrooms has also taken part in CEI’s Tastemaker Initiative, a business cultivator developed jointly by CEI and FocusMaine to develop Maine’s food economy and grow jobs by providing capital and technical assistance to growth-oriented businesses within the agriculture and aquaculture sectors.
Thanks to innovative thinking and a combination of skilled partners, CEI, Mousam Valley Mushrooms and Waban are helping both the company and its employees grow.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MOUSAM VALLEY MUSHROOMS
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We encourage employers to overcome business challenges by investing in employees and considering changes to jobs that would be mutually beneficial. To learn more about our Good Jobs strategy, visit https://www.ceimaine.org/advising/workforce-solutions/