The Spectrum Network (TSN) is purchasing the former Wonder Hostess Bakery Outlet in Decorah for a new business that will focus on creating community integrated employment opportunities.

The new venture is comprised of three phases: a thrift store, a cold storage and aggregation unit and a future community kitchen.

"Employment is our main focus and we have been diligently working with employers for many years to locate opportunities for individuals with disabilities so that they can gain more independence," said Dr. Deb Schott, executive director of TSN.

"For nearly two years we have been researching various alternatives which would serve as the catalyst for transforming our organization into the future. We are delighted to now have the community support and funding to move forward," Schott continued. "We feel this business initiative will be a great addition to Northeast Iowa and we are excited about the opportunity to create jobs for the community in an integrated environment."

The phases

The project will be rolled out in three phases. Phase one is a new thrift store, Spectrum Vibrations; phase two is a food aggregation and cold storage unit; and the final phase is implementing a community kitchen.

Phase two and three will support the locally grown and health and wellness initiatives in Northeast Iowa and create opportunities that are not currently easily accessible to local producers and their consumers, Schott said.

When all phases are complete, projections indicate at least 25 new positions will have been created in an integrated employment workplace.

The project is a collaborative effort supported by a variety of Northeast Iowa area entities including the Iowa State Extension Office, Oneota Community Food Coop, Luther College and the Center for Sustainability, Allamakee New Beginnings; providers such as Prairie View Management, Inc., county supervisors and the Kellogg Food and Fitness Initiative.

The Spectrum Network is a private, non-profit organization that provides customized employment services and daily living assistance to adults with disabilities, substance abuse, mental illness and other barriers to life.

Over 100 men and women from nine Iowa counties currently benefit from the services of TSN. The organization will continue to raise funds to support the development of the entity that will transpire over the next three years. To support the project or receive more information, call 563-382-8401.