Highco Inc., the non-profit Hillsboro organization that serves individuals with developmental disabilities, is expanding and has purchased a new site, CEO Keith Alcorn said Wednesday.
The new 10-acre location is the former site of Conway Transportation, just west of Hillsboro on U.S. Route 50.
Alcorn said Highco is already utilizing about 3,000-square feet of office space at the new site and is in the process of remodeling a 6,400-square foot area at the rear of the building where Highco clients will work.
It all started about eight to 10 years ago, Alcorn said, when the state government was considering making entities like Highco separate from county boards of DD. Rather than wait on the state to make a decision, Alcorn said the Highland County Board of DD started the separation process three to four years ago then got serious about it in 2016 and brought him on board in August that year to finish the process.
The split officially took place in January of 2017.
With the split, Alcorn said Highco was able expand the services it offers and the area it covers. He said that Highco now has about 80 clients and while the vast majority of them live in Highland County, Highco does some work in 11 different counties.
While the transition to the new facility is ongoing, there are currently still three separate entities at the site on U.S. Route 50, east of Hillsboro, that Highco is transitioning from. Hills and Dales is operated by Board of DD staff and serves school age children, Highco primarily serves clients after their school years, and the Board of DD provides support to children and adults who have developmental disabilities.
Alcorn said the services Highco provides for its clients vary depending on their disabilities. He said Highco can help with housing, transportation, employment or some type of care throughout the day and/or evening. Each client has a case manager and goals they try to attain.
Highco has five departments: Vocational Habilitation, Day Habilitation, Transportation, Community Employment and Homemaker Personal Care.
Vocational Habilitation helps clients find work.
Day Habilitation staff have some clients that work, but most need help with other life skills.
Transportation staff help get clients where they need to go.
The Community Employment Department works with the Board of DD and Opportunities for Ohioans With Disabilities to place clients in community employment and help ensure they succeed.
Homemaker Personal Care has a few clients that need 24/7 care, but most need help a couple days a week with things like cleaning, getting groceries or to a doctor, or maybe some type of recreation.
Alcorn said the Vocational Habilitation Department has had long-standing contracts with Ferno-Washington, TimberTech and Highland Computer Forms, and recently added a contract with Adient in Greenfield.
He said that while some organizations around the country similar to Highco pay their clients little to nothing, all Highco Vocational Habilitation Department clients earn minimum wage.
“That’s a wonderful thing and we want to keep it that way,” Alcorn said. “Oh, the pride they have in working. You won’t find any harder working and dedicated staff than our clients. They enjoy seeing people, love what they’re doing, and enjoy their day and getting paychecks. It really makes your heart sing.”
March is DD Awareness Month.
“We just want to let people learn a little about what we do and the individuals we work with,” Alcorn said. “If anybody has work like something we could do, that would be wonderful. If they’re looking for employees, we can help with that and support them on the job.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.