Enterprise North observes 50-year anniversary

NEW ULM — As Enterprise North, Inc., observes its 50-year anniversary, Director Dana O’Brien said the nonprofit group that assists people with disabilities is holding an open house event Tuesday.

She said the open house features tours of the group’s North Broadway site and demonstrations of what clients build and create.

“Anyone from the community can come and see what Enterprise is,” said site manager Michele Drahota.

Despite its 50 years of operating in New Ulm, some people may still not know what Enterprise is or what kind of services they offer to people with disabilities, Drahota said.

Enterprise North, Inc., is a day training and habilitation (DT&H) program that works to meet the specific and individualized needs of adults who have developmental disabilities or related conditions.

Services offered by Enterprise include school/work transitions, community connection programs and paid vocational opportunities with in-house production work and community based employment.

Enterprise also partners with several local businesses to give individuals with disabilities the opportunity to become a part of the daily workforce in the community.

“A lot of them are proud that they’re going to work and doing a job,” Drahota said. “They come in and see their friends and have a chance to meet other folks that they can develop relationships with.”

Most of the in-house production work, in partnership with Dittrich Specialties, Fastenal and Maverick Blinds, is light assembly work with tasks such as packaging, dismantling and repackaging of kits.

Leisure activities are also available on site, including a job coach that supports four to five people at a time, Drahota said.

Many of these services have expanded over the years since Enterprise first began in 1969.

Drahota said Enterprise was established 50 years ago as a private, nonprofit corporation. They began offering their services out of Oakwood United Methodist church. They moved to Souix Trails Mental Health Center in 1972. They moved to their present day location at 2106 N. Broadway St. in 1980 and have shared the building space with MRCI.

Enterprise also has locations on North Front Street in New Ulm where most of their in-house work is done, and in Madelia, with a thrift shop that sells items made by individuals at one of Enterprise’s sites.

Some of the items sold at the thrift shop in Madelia include fire starters from cardboard, used candles and shredded paper; pet beds made from fabric swatches and used toys and pillows; and bags of rags made from discarded fabric or apparel.

As Enterprise looks to the future, O’Brien said she hopes the state Legislature continues to provide adequate funding so programs such as there’s can continue assisting people with disabilties.

“We’re at their mercy to some degree as to where our funding is coming from,” O’Brien said. “We just hope they continue to fund these types of programs for folks.”

Enterprise North’s open house is today from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 2106 N. Broadway St. Enterprise’s Madelia location holds an open house 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24.

Gage Cureton can be emailed at gcureton@nujournal.com.