Building for the Future: Pioneer Center and First Capital Enterprise to Make Move

Superintendent Rick Marriot presents plans for the new building to the County Commissioners.

Superintendent Rick Marriot presents plans for the new building to the County Commissioners.

As the New Year quickly approaches, the Pioneer Center and First Capital Enterprises (FCE) have their sights set on new locations, and new opportunities that come with them.

Staff from the Ross County Board of Developmental Disabilities (RCBDD), better known locally as the Pioneer Center, will be moving to 167 W. Main St., FCE’s current headquarters, in the latter half of 2014. FCE will be moving their operations to 570 Douglas Avenue, former home to the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus.

The move will free up much-needed space at the Pioneer School. Over the past few years at the school, closets and break rooms have been converted into offices to accommodate the growing workforce needed to keep up with the increasing number of individuals who receive services from the Pioneer Center. It also allows Pioneer to continue growing, evolving alongside a rising need for service coordination and employment-based services.

When the Pioneer Center was built in 1972, it was one building, housing one agency, serving 50 people. Today, the Pioneer Center is comprised of several agencies and service providers dispersed around Chillicothe, serving a group that’s ten times as large. The move will centralize the administration, placing them in the heart of the service delivery system, rather than on the outskirts of it.

While students and teachers will remain at the Pioneer School on County Road 550, administrative staff will be moving to Main Street. They will be joined by the Pioneer Center’s Service and Support Administration (SSA), which manage cases for nearly 500 Ross County residents with developmental disabilities (DD), from infants to the elderly. Pioneer’s Early Intervention (EI) team, who serve children 0-3 years of age, will also make the move. The arrangement will eliminate the need for the Pioneer Center to lease the space at 20 S. Paint St., where the SSA and EI staff currently reside.

The move will also have a positive impact on FCE, an organization that provides a wide range of employment opportunities, vocational training, and employment related service for individuals with DD. FCE currently operates from 2 locations, a building on 7th St. that houses their paper-shredding operation and day habilitation program, and the W. Main St. location, which houses administrative staff and an industrial sub-assembly program. The move will shift all business-related operations to 7th St., while all day hab programming relocates to Douglas Ave.

Ron Farrar, Executive Director of FCE, is excited about the possibilities for growth the move creates for his organization. “FCE has always been an entrepreneurial organization; this will give us more entrepreneurial opportunities,” Farrar explained.

Mr. Farrar explained that the property could become a sort of complex that serves as the base for all FCE’s operations in the future. More immediately, the new property will lower FCE’s operating costs and increase production capacity, freeing up resources they can put into other areas of operation, such as their growing transportation division.

The location on Douglas Ave. boasts 7 acres of land that FCE will make good use of. This includes a softball field, which will hopefully host softball games for members of the DD community and the general public. The property also offers space to implement new day-hab activities, such as arts, crafts, and exercise programs.

Both organizations will renovate their new homes before moving in, creating work for construction crews, and helping to modernize the neighborhoods. The Pioneer Center has retained the architectural firm Brandstetter Carroll, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, for renovations. FCE has contracted Chillicothe-based AKM Building Systems, Inc. to do a design-build at the property on Douglas. The move will also benefit the city by providing additional tax revenue from Pioneer Center employees.

The Pioneer Center has owned the building at 167 W. Main St. since the early 1980’s, when they purchased the building to expand their adult program. At that time, FCE was a direct part of Pioneer’s adult program. After FCE became a free-standing non-profit organization, they continued to be a key partner and service provider, and used the facility as their base of operations during that time.

While the move means a reduction in capital reserves in the short-term, the focus is on long-term growth that allows the organizations to achieve their missions.  In the spirit of continued cooperation, these partner organizations are keeping focused on a shared goal: enriching the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities in Ross County.