Airplane parts company employs the 'employment challenged'

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on March 16, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 16 at 5:36 PM

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Orion Aerospace is an airplane parts company on a social mission.  It's won awards from Boeing for the quality of its parts, but many of the people building those parts have disabilities and have struggled to find work.

Orion calls its self a "social enterprise" and is not for profit. It’s been doing this since 1957. Right now it employs 62 people who are employment challenged, many with disabilities including neurological, psychiatric and developmental problems.  People who have struggled to find work for years, and are often referred by the state for vocational rehabilitation.

The jobs are temporary. The workers spend time in assembly or other forms of manufacturing until they find a job that clicks. After six months to a year, most will emerge from the program with a resume and 80 percent will go on to another job where they will stay at least one year, leaving chronic unemployment behind them. The work pays minimum wage, and each participant is matched up with mentors who help train them in job skills.

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