PNC Bank today announced $18.8 million in financing to support Beyond Vision, with the renovation of its new VisABILITY Center, Wisconsin’s first facility designed to optimize accessibility and employment resources for individuals who are blind or have vision loss. The inclusive and adaptive center will provide a unique sensory space that will boost opportunities for workforce development, economic empowerment, and the capacity for potential co-location of other wrap-around organizations to provide access to rehabilitation, healthcare and social services, particularly for individuals residing in low- to moderate-income areas.
“PNC is committed to leveraging the power of its resources to help our customers and communities succeed and move forward financially. This project is a reflection of that commitment, as we seek to provide equal access to resources and employment opportunities through Beyond Vision’s new VisABILITY Center,” said Chris Hermann, PNC regional president of Wisconsin. “Accessibility often sits at the crossroads of innovation and inclusion. PNC is proud to play a role in helping this unique center remove barriers to advance career success and overall health and financial wellness for the visually impaired.”
Renovation of the 130,000-square-foot center received financing support from PNC through a collaborative effort between its Commercial Banking business, which provided a $14 million loan; and its Tax Credit Solutions group, a PNC Real Estate business, which provided a $4.8 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) equity investment. PNC also collaborated with Community Development Entities, Impact Seven and First-Ring Industrial Redevelopment Enterprise, to provide NMTC allocation for the project.
“For many people with vision loss, Beyond Vision represents a pathway to their first job. Employees develop their sense of self-worth, advance their skills through onsite training, and ultimately gain economic independence,” said Jim Kerlin, president and CEO, Beyond Vision. “Our new VisABILITY Center will help us take our efforts to the next level by creating a more optimal sensory experience targeting a goal of tripling our local staff count.”
Work on the facility is scheduled to be completed by September 2022. Located in the former Sam’s Club at 1540 South 108 Street in West Allis, Wis., the new space will reflect a universal design concept, which includes audio smart phone interface navigation systems, textured flooring for blind employee wayfinding, flooded ambient lighting for low vision employees, Braille signage, assistive-technology and landscaping with ample green space. The center will also consolidate all Beyond Vision’s operations from three separate locations into one. Since 1903, Beyond Vision has worked to reduce the obstacles that people with vision loss face finding employment, achieving upward mobility and gaining the confidence to thrive. Today, Beyond Vision is a high-performing social enterprise that is 100% committed to delivering quality products and outsourced services through creativity, collaboration and common purpose. Jobs and careers at Beyond Vision offer financial stability and independence while providing a collaborative, forward-thinking work environment where each employee is encouraged to explore their own path to growth and success. Visit www.BeyondVision.com to learn more about the services offered, careers and mission.