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Crossroads Solar hiring released felons

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 5:39 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Some employers may be reluctant to hire convicted felons, but South Bend start-up Crossroads Solar isn’t one of them.

“We discard a segment of our workforce because we assume they can’t be good. I’m building a company based on the assumption that they can be good employees,” said Crossroads’ co-founder Patrick Regan.

Crossroads Solar has vowed to hire only convicted felons who have served time behind bars and earned a chance to enter the workforce with dignity.

The company was formed about a year ago with plans to build something that’s good for the planet—solar panels—in a way that benefits the community.

Regan is a former Notre Dame professor who also taught at the Westville Prison through the University’s Moreau Initiative. Martin Whalen is the other co-founder who presently works at Notre Dame as the Career Program Manager for the college of Arts and Letters.

Crossroads made it easy for Molly Rowe to get a job. She was just released from prison last month after obtaining e-commerce and web development skills.

“So, my incarceration was due to drug related charges, and I spent three years at Indiana Women’s Prison. So, I’ve learned a lot and changed a lot and when you meet other people, they kind of look at you like, ‘oh, you were in prison?’ But they don’t give you a chance to say well, this is how I was, but this is who I am now.”

Crossroads has had as many as 12 employees. It now has five on the payroll earning decent wages, benefits and access to ‘two’ retirement plans. One for themselves and one for their current boss.

“My goal is to get it up and sustainable over a few years and then, our goal is actually to give the company to the employees and let them run it,” said Regan. “One of the keys is respect and not exploiting them. Everybody’s willing to exploit people who have a hard time. I think if you don’t exploit them and you respect them, they show the same respect back.”

Regan says the solar panel industry is dominated by foreign interests. He expects that Crossroads’ panels will end up on the likes of homes, schools, churches, and government buildings in the United States, bought by customers who appreciate the company’s social mission.

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