James Mitchell waited two years for his job. That’s how long he was on the waiting list for Illinois Growth Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that provides jobs for people with disabilities. The organization has found success with customers by promoting itself not just as a good cause, but also as a place that does good work.

James Mitchell waited two years for his job.

That’s how long he was on the waiting list for Illinois Growth Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that provides jobs for people with disabilities. He’s one of eight employees the organization has added since Nov. 1 because of increased workload.

“I was really depressed. I was at home all the time, and I had nothing to do,” said Mitchell, who moved from Byron to Rockford to start working at Illinois Growth Enterprises.

Illinois Growth Enterprises employees package, assemble and recycle products for other companies that have outsourced the work.

Like many companies, Illinois Growth Enterprises had a slowdown this summer and early fall. During that stretch, there was only work for about half of the approximately 175 employees, and those who worked only did so for two or three days a week.

But business picked up in November as the organization got new outsourcing contracts, meaning most employees had work, some got overtime, and some new people were added. And with a 175,000-square-foot facility, there’s room for more growth.

“This can be a good time for us in that many employers are shy about hiring,” said Michael Miller, vice president of operations. “If you have a job and you don’t know if it’s going to last, you’re much more likely to subcontract than to hire.”

The organization has found success with customers by promoting itself not just as a good cause, but also as a place that does good work.

One of its primary contracts is with Dakota-based Berner Foods for secondary packaging of On the Border-brand salsa con queso bowls. Those will be available in prominent displays at Sam’s Club locations around the country.

Bill Hall, president of Grafcor Packaging in Rockford, has directed several of his contacts, including Berner Foods, to Illinois Growth Enterprises.

“You’ll never find a better work ethic,” he said. “I’ve done stuff with them for years, and I’ve never had a single mishap that would be attributed to the workers themselves. It’s just a real joy.”

Thomas V. Bona can be reached at (815) 987-1343 or tbona@rrstar.com.