EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – At the beginning of 2023, Goodwill of Evansville announced they were moving into the former Sears building at Washington Square Mall. Now, we are getting a look on the inside as the transformation continues. There is excitement for new life with Goodwill’s move, but officials say this project is about much more than a store.
“It’s been a long, sometimes hard, road. And it’s not over yet,” says Connie Ralph, President and CEO of Evansville Goodwill Industries, Inc.
It’s a process years in the making. In 2022, Evansville Goodwill Industries purchased the former retail space. Construction is now taking shape on both the outside and inside.
“To take an old building like this that’s been sitting empty and turn it into something that’s going to give back to the community,” says Ralph, “that was a very huge driving force as well.”
Ralph says this location will be a one-stop shop for all Goodwill’s services. In addition to a 14,000 square foot thrift store, this space will also house corporate office space, an opportunity center where non-profits can offer various community services, as well as a good skills academy.
“The digital skills training through the good skills academy is also free and open to the public,” says Ralph. “Anybody who needs to learn how to use a computer, from a very basic level all the way up to a higher level, we will make that available here, too, for free.”
Also free will be a new state-funded charter school for adults called the Excel Center, where those enrolled can earn a Core 40 diploma.
“The people we would anticipate being here are the people that, for whatever reason, it just didn’t work for them to go to a traditional high school,” explains Ralph.
What is now a construction zone will soon be resource for residents with all sorts of needs.
“That’s the big part of the goal,” says Ralph, “to bring so many different services from other non-profits and make them available here, and to make it possible for people to have those private meetings, private interviews, things like that.”
In addition to those services, Ralph expects a sense of nostalgia for those who remember the former retail space.
“I think they may walk in and say, ‘I remember when this was the tool area’ or ‘I remember when this was the appliance area upstairs’, that kind of thing,” says Ralph.
Work remains on schedule for offices and the store sections to open by the end of March 2024. The rest of the facility, including the Excel Center, are set to open by August of 2024.
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