Five years ago, Michael and Ashleigh Metz set out to transform how adults with exceptionalities are served. They wanted to offer the best opportunities, services, business partnerships, and community service programs available.
“Our community has so much talent and skill but not nearly enough opportunities to put them to use,” said Michael. “Our mission is to create those opportunities by providing career opportunities, creating humanitarian programs, and offering educational/vocational training, community outings, and life-enriching activities.”
With a business plan in hand, the Cincinnati natives leased space and renovated it at night while working for Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services during the day. In the spring of 2017, they opened the doors to Metzcor with just four participants on their roster.
Word of Metzcor’s new approach spread fast. It wasn’t long before the organization added a second location nearby. Within four years, Metzcor was serving more than 100 individuals with a team of nearly 40 staff members.
“A First-of-Its-Kind” Community
In August 2021, Metzcor purchased two, three-story medical office buildings totaling nearly 75,000 square feet on Mercy Health’s campus in Cincinnati’s Westwood neighborhood. In October 2021, work got underway to transform the facilities into the Metzcor Community Campus.
Metzcor engaged Miller Valentine Construction to assist with phase one of the work, which called for renovating two floors — about 38,000 square feet — of one of the buildings. The space will be home to Metzcor’s daily educational and vocational programs and activities, a community-based coffee shop, an event center, new business ventures, and several community-based business partnerships.
Nine organizations have already committed to having a presence on the campus: the Ken Anderson Alliance, which will run a coffee shop and a hydroponics operation; Pregnancy Center West; Keys to Success Music Therapy; African Fire Mission; Caregiver Grove; Faust Film; Life Springs Church; Marissa Conners Fashion; and CorMission nonprofit.
Metzcor is also starting four businesses on campus: MakeCor Woodworking Shop, a dog treat company, a music studio, and a t-shirt printing and apparel company. These business ventures will enable Metzcor participants to earn an hourly wage and provide them with many different career path options.
“It’s often difficult for the individuals we serve to retain jobs. We are meeting them where they are with as many job opportunities as possible,” said Michael.
The event center will be host to dances, art shows, fashion shows, receptions, and many other community events. In addition, Life Springs Church will use the space on weekends for church service.
The structure’s final floor will be renovated as funding allows. Long-term development of the second building is currently undecided. When it is fully built out, the new campus will serve approximately 250 individuals while doubling its staff and adding many new resources over time.
“This campus will be the first of its kind,” said Michael. “It will create a level of independence for individuals that simply wasn’t possible before. Simply stated, the Metzcor Community Campus is the next big step to provide our family with the opportunity to live their best life.”
Greater Certainty for a Better Experience
This is the first time either Michael or Ashleigh has engaged in a construction project of this
scale. As with most small businesses, they wear many hats throughout the course of the day.
Working with Miller Valentine has enabled them to focus on their operations.
“Having Miller Valentine in our corner has helped immensely,” said Michael. “Any questions or concerns that we have, they have been there for us. It’s been an outstanding process.”
Phase one of the project is expected to be completed in July. The entire Metzcor team, participants, and families are looking forward to realizing the vision and the many new opportunities that will soon be possible in their new home.
To learn more about Metzcor or to support the organization, visit www.metzcor.com