TRAVERSE CITY — Paperworks Studios, a greeting card-making program that employed disabled and disadvantaged people, is folding operations after money that was supposed to carry the program through a transition from Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan to Grand Traverse Industries failed to materialize.
Goodwill Industries officials in November announced they no longer would support Paperworks Studios after they spent nearly $1.1 million on the program over five years. Goodwill entered into an agreement with GTI in January to transition Paperworks Studios into their management.
“It’s unfortunate that our community is losing this paper company that people have grown to love so much, but I actually think it’s great that most of the artists are moving on to greater employment opportunities,” said Leah Bagdon McCallum, the director of advancement at Goodwill.
Twenty-eight artists worked at Paperworks Studios, McCallum said. Some took jobs at GTI and Goodwill and the rest accepted severance packages, McCallum said.
GTI is a nonprofit corporation that has more than 200 people with disabilities on its payroll. Steve Perdue, the President and CEO of GTI, planned to make Paperworks more efficient and profitable by Jan. 1, 2015.
But he never got the chance.
Perdue said he was relying on between $75,000 and $100,000 in outside donations to help with the transition through August. He said he found out a week and a half ago that the money wouldn’t arrive.
“We’re disappointed. We had a lot invested and GTI was giving it its best,” Perdue said.
Six Paperworks employees will have jobs with GTI in manufacturing plants, he said. Goodwill offered other employees jobs or severance packages.
Goodwill representatives could not be reached for comment.
Paperworks Studios stopped production on March 1, Perdue said, but officials at GTI and Goodwill were still trying to transition the program.