Gregg Keesling of Indianapolis has been honored for his work with the nonprofit company he started in 2006, Workforce Inc. The Indianapolis Star says the firm hires ex-offenders and helps them transition back to society while helping to improve the environment. Workforce Inc. strips electronic equipment, mostly computers, and sells the electronic waste to recyclers. The form addresses two of the nation’s most pressing concerns: what to do with felons newly back on the streets (about 5,000 a year in Marion County alone) and what to do with the toxic innards of discarded computers.
Workforce Inc., with a $1.5 million annual budget, survives mostly on grants, public and private. Keesling is trying to lessen its dependence on those sources by increasing sales. And that means recycling more junk. Workforce Inc. has branched out into house demolition, which Keesling sees as a growth industry as the city attempts to deal with a spate of abandoned homes. “I know he’s done a lot of good,” said Nate Rush of Bethlehem House, a nonprofit social services agency that also assists ex-offenders, “but he seems more like an entrepreneur than a social worker.”