Via News Release
“Tech Dump, a Twin Cities based electronics recycler and social enterprise that has been steadily in growth mode since its inception in 2011, has signed a purchase agreement for a 90,000 square foot building at 860 Vandalia Street in St. Paul. This more than doubles their existing square footage and capacity to recycle and refurbish old tech items while providing jobs training.”
Tech Dump is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing job training and practical experience for adults facing barriers to employment that prepares them to be more valuable employees with an expanding future. The organization (including retail arm Tech Discounts) currently has 30,000 square feet on Prior Avenue in St Paul and an additional 8,000 square feet in Golden Valley. The first phase plan is to occupy 2/3 of the new space and rent out the remaining 30,000 square feet, until growth reaches a size that requires the entire space. The new building will accommodate expanded jobs training facilities, larger secure holding areas for corporate and consumer drop offs, and sometime in 2019, a retail outlet selling refurbished and warrantied tech items, Tech Discounts. The original Tech Discounts will continue in Golden Valley, accepting small-quantity recycling drop-off while selling refurbished tech items at with prices 75 percent lower than traditional retail.
The purchase, brokered through Kate Gillette at Avison Young Nonprofit Group, was boosted by a City of St Paul STAR $130K grant as well as $170K low-interest loan program, through a community reviewed and approved process. Additionally, Sunrise Bank and Propel for Nonprofits acted as key funders and partners in the project. The Tech Dump team is made up of 48 employees, over half of which are trainees going through the work-readiness program. The paid, 18-month, on-the-job training program focuses on supporting adults facing barriers to employment such as having been incarcerated and/or chemical dependency, and preparing them to be valuable employees with an expanding future. In addition, Tech Dump provides environmentally and socially responsible solutions to getting rid of unused and broken computers, cell phones, and other electronics. Third-party auditing ensures safe processing and secure data destruction, and Tech Dump prioritizes reuse and recovery over disposal of materials.
Since its inception, Tech Dump has processed more than 25 million pounds of e-waste. In the process, it has provided more than 300,000 hours of job training. Tech Dump addresses several UN Sustainable Development Goals, including poverty, vocational skills, material footprint, sustainable industry, discrimination, urban waste management, hazardous waste, and climate change. The organization’s impact includes extensive job training that leads to living wage employment; responsible electronics recycling and refurbishing that lessens the harmful effects of pollution in our environment; and refurbished electronics that make technology affordable.
Board Chair Mark Evenson, Managing Director at Avison Young, also played an impactful role in the growth story. Evenson says, “As a board member since its founding in 2010, I have tried to use my commercial real estate experience, expertise, and resources to help guide Jobs Foundation and its business Tech Dump, through the challenges of finding facilities that supported our mission, operations, and progress. After a number of occupancy strategies and buildings, Tech Dump has acquired a building that will allow the organization to continue to promote growth, and enhance our job training and development programs.This property is ideally situated, delivering convenience and accessibility to our customers, clients, and most importantly to our employees. I am truly excited to part of this next chapter of a really great story.”
Tech Dump’s future growth expectations include doubling revenue and staff by 2022, while expanding the breadth of the training for program participants. CEO Amanda LaGrange notes, “With increasing use of technology, we see huge potential for growth opportunities-for example, continued workforce shortages show our work readiness program can play a crucial role in connecting untapped talent in our communities with local business.” As a further example of the company’s growth, Tech Dump recently acquired Scrubb.IT, a convenient mail-in program which allows for service nationally, and removes convenience barrier that can keep people from driving to drop-off if they only have a few small things. In conjunction with boosted e-commerce efforts, Tech Dump continues to add to upstream sources while also vetting safe and secure downstream partners. “We remain vigilant in our quest to navigate not only sometimes volatile markets, especially with changing trade policies, as well as making sure our standards reflect the highest commitments to environmental stewardship and security,” says LaGrange.
Tech Dump plans to use the rest of 2018 to make improvements to the new building, and host a grand opening celebration in January 2019. “It will be a truly wonderful way to ring in the new year,” adds LaGrange. This has been a long time in the making, and we are ready to celebrate!”