WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — Eighty percent of people with intellectual and development disabilities are unemployed across the nation, according to a national employment report.
But, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee and PPD are partnering on a new venture to change this narrative in Wilmington. Pharmaceutical Product Development is located downtown on North Front Street.
It started with a mother with a heart for change.
“We started this coffee shop not because they needed jobs, but because we wanted to start shifting culture here in our community and say that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities lives have value just like everybody else,” Founder Amy Wright said.
Wright founded Bitty & Beau’s coffee in Wilmington. Since then, locations have been opened in Charleston and Savannah. Now, another location will open right here at home.
“The Wilmington community has embraced Bitty & Beau’s Coffee since we opened our doors three and a half years ago and PPD has been one of our biggest supporters,” Wright said.
Wright says PPD which employs more than a dozen people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities reached out years ago wanting to partner so, building a shop on site was the natural next step.
“We feel like it’s just going to help show this whole business world what is possible when you incorporate people with disabilities into the work force,” Wright said.
Wright says the Wilmington coffee shop has 40 employees with a wait list of more than 100 people. She says she hopes this partnership offers more than just jobs.
“We feel like other businesses are going to see what’s happening and, hopefully, they too will think outside the box when they go to hire their next employee and consider someone with a disability for that position,” Wright said.
Wright says construction is already underway at PPD. The plan is to open this October, which coincides with Disability Employment Awareness Month.
PPD is located at 929 N. Front Street in Wilmington.