It's easy to be successful when the economy is on your side.
Six years after the Milwaukee YWCA started Generation 2 Plastics - a 35,000-square-foot facility that served as a training ground for women coming off welfare - the nonprofit agency discontinued its operation Dec. 31. Spokeswoman Crystal MacNeal said the YWCA is consolidating programs and services that were costing the organization money.
``It's always a risk when you set out on a venture,'' she said. ``We did well in the late '90s when the economy was much stronger.'' She said the injection molder employed four and ran five presses.
MacNeal said the YWCA had budgeted for sales of $715,600 during 2002, but saw actual sales of $592,151. The Milwaukee plant had budgeted for $978,216 in expenses, but had actual expenses of $613,291.
Pam Fendt, policy analyst for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Center for Economic Development, said she did not understand how the company could have been losing money, since it had a natural competitive advantage.
``They were getting free labor,'' Fendt said, ``so they had a leg up.''
Fendt said the YWCA purchased the facility after it had gone through bankruptcy, a factor that did not help its economic situation.
``I just don't know how viable it was when they took it over,'' she said. MacNeal could not confirm immediately whether the YWCA had purchased the facility after a bankruptcy.
The Helen Bader Foundation Inc., a charitable organization in Milwaukee, donated a total of $75,000 in two grants to G2P during 1998 and 2000. Bader spokesman Robert Tobon referred questions to the YWCA.
Despite its troubles, MacNeal said G2P won a community service award from the Society of Plastics Engineers that it will receive this year.
``Even on our way out we're still making a difference,'' MacNeal said. ``That's kind of cool.''
Wayne Vander Zanden, president of Milwaukee's SPE chapter, said it was ``definitely an unusual situation'' with G2P picking up an award despite the fact that it no longer will be a going concern. But he had praise for the project.
``I think it's fantastic,'' he said. ``It was located in a very poor section of Milwaukee, and for people that couldn't work, they were providing training for them so they could have a career.''
Zanden said the national SPE chapter gave the award. Representatives from SPE's national chapter were not available for comment before deadline.