MANATEE -- Goodwill Manasota will let shoppers roam the aisles at its new $13 million store Thursday.
The organization's new 69,605-square-foot corporate campus, 2715 51st Ave. E., will open half its complex at 9 a.m. Thursday as the retail store officially welcomes the public.
"This is not your father's Goodwill," said Rick Fawley, whose firm Fawley Bryant Architects Inc. of Lakewood Ranch designed the complex.
This Goodwill features bigger spaces, brighter lights and upscale merchandise. To wit: a pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes are for sale in the store's Treasure Island boutique area.
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The store off U.S. 301 and State Road 70, will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
"We're celebrating a new beginning for this neighborhood, a new beginning for this county and a new beginning for the area that we serve," Goodwill Manasota Chief Executive Officer Bob Rosinsky said Wednesday at an invite-only preview of the new store.
The sales floor covers 18,000 square feet, Fawley said, with a 16,000-square-foot production area where items are sort
ed and a training area for cashiers to hone their skills.
A 28,000-square-foot administration center and international training center will be rolled out by October on the 9.2-acre site as most of the nonprofit's staff will move from offices on Tallevast Road. The new Goodwill headquarters also features a 24-hour drive-thru donation center and a Jobs Connection center where people can receive job training skills and apply for jobs.
"We've got a big team, and every one of them has their fingerprints all over this place," Rosinsky said. "The people that we serve and the jobs that we create are because of their efforts, putting together the thousands and thousands of details it takes to make a building like this look this way."
Goodwill Manasota helped place 537 people in jobs last year and helped 329 veterans return to the workforce, said Kim Dalglish, vice president of membership development and services for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.
Unlike several Goodwills in Florida and across the nation, Goodwill Manasota does not use a special wage certificate program that allows employers to pay workers with physical or mental disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. The program is designed to encourage employers to find jobs for people with impairments, according to the Department of Labor.
The new store brings 42 employees from the DeSoto Junction location that closed along with 27 added jobs, according to Goodwill Manasota. The campus was built by NDC Construction of Bradenton, with Crowley Services of Sarasota performing construction management.
Manatee County Commission Chairman Larry Bustle says the opening represents new opportunities.
"There are so many areas along the 301 corridor that I suspect will be exploding with activity in future years -- especially as soon as 44th Avenue is built to connect Bradenton with Lakewood Ranch," Bustle said. "Thousands of Manatee County and Sarasota County residents will frequent this location for years to come."
Last year, Goodwill Manasota had an $81.3 million economic impact in its service area of DeSoto, Hardee, Manatee and Sarasota counties, said Steve Boone, Goodwill Manasota chairman.
Goodwill Manasota also announced Rosinksy was honored June 29 by Goodwill Industries International with the Robert E. and Charlotte Watkins Award for Excellence in Mission Advancement. The award recognizes innovation, and is partially connected to what Goodwill Manasota is set to unveil in October.
"Robert and Charlotte Watkins endowed an award to honor innovation among Goodwills -- innovations that can ultimately benefit the entire enterprise," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "Bob embodies the spirit of the award and his work continues to impact the broader Goodwill network on a daily basis."
The award recognized Rosinsky's development of the Goodwill's national Mission Development Services program that provides education, training and mentoring service to Goodwill store around the United States. The new international training center that will open in October is a critical part of the MDS program, according to Goodwill Industries.
"What looks like a store is really an international training center that will provide education services for anybody from this neighborhood who needs help. Goodwill team members will be trained in a variety of jobs, community leaders from Southwest Florida, the United States and the rest of the world will come here to learn our best practices in how to conduct this mission-integrated donated goods enterprise and serve more people," Rosinsky said.
Rosinsky also developed a database program to track Goodwill sales, donations, donor value, labor and other data, according to Goodwill.
"Your Goodwill has changed the way Goodwill nationally does business across this entire continent," Rosinsky said.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.