Solar company provides ex-inmates with second chance at society

NOW: Solar company provides ex-inmates with second chance at society

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Community members and workers were so excited to welcome new business Crossroads Solar at a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday afternoon. The local business promises to provide economic benefits for our area and partners for the company say they're hoping to become the leading panel operator helping Michiana tackle climate change one panel at a time.

“In 2010 I made a huge mistake right so I, I at one time I sold cocaine. I went to prison for 8 years, paid my debts to society and I'm here to work," said Noel Townsend, Plant Manager.

Townsend graduated with his MBA several years ago, but he says it was difficult finding a job after being released from prison.

Following his enrollment at Holy Cross he began taking classes from Marty Whalen and Patrick Regan, partners for the local startup, when he learned about the opportunity to work for the business --- which he says he's grateful for -- like many of his co-workers.

“They're bright, they're energetic. They know they've made a mistake so they're excellent employees going forward and so we like our model. We like the opportunity for them to pay back to society a little bit and become productive members of society," said Whalen, partner.

Whalen who's been working on the launch of the business for the past three years says the company has the goal of giving back to the community not just with the environmental benefits of their solar panel products, but by helping ex-inmates reshape their lives by providing them with stable salaries.

Despite a difficult launch for the business due to delayed product deliveries and price increases he says it's great to finally see his hard work come to life.

"We've had supply chain issues like everybody's had. We're navigating those. It's been very very difficult to start a business, especially a social entrepreneurial business during COVID, but we've met the challenges. We have people that are used to meeting challenges," said Whalen.

While the business is focusing on producing solar panels for businesses, homes, and RV's -- Townsend says he's excited for the potential to expand their offerings to even more community members as they begin production.

"Dealing with new customers, new suppliers. Just the whole gambit of a startup, it excites me and it's fun," said Townsend.

The company is hoping to expand from hiring just twelve employees to over 100 within the next year.

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