Upstate entrepreneur Scott Green ran a successful staffing agency for about five years. Eventually, Green sold his agency and brainstormed for his next business endeavor.
“I started the plan to open another staffing company in the Upstate, and I had identified another niche that was going to be a really good business model,” Green says.
But, he soon tweaked his business model after a happenstance meeting with a Greenville Rescue Mission guest in search of work. From there, Green took his idea to Miracle Hill, and soon after, BridgeWorks was born.
“Being a creationist in business and starting businesses, that’s really where I thrive,” Green says. “I know staffing; I know the model. I’ve drawn on what was very successful before, and I knew I could manipulate those successes to create success again.”
BridgeWorks is the first company of Miracle Hill Enterprises (MHE), a for-profit arm of Miracle Hill Ministries. All revenue from the staffing agency goes back to support the mission of Miracle Hill.
The need to connect people seeking jobs with companies seeking employees is never-ending, and the staffing industry aids in that connection process. According to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed South Carolinians in June was about 87,000.
BridgeWorks posts jobs on its website and Facebook page and has an application process common to other staffing agencies.
While operating 90 percent of the company as a traditional staffing and recruiting firm, BridgeWorks is made unique from competitors by one thing — reaching an underutilized labor pool: the homeless.
Through the Bridge the Gap program, BridgeWorks partners with Greenville Rescue Mission to find meaningful, long-term employment for homeless guests. In the future, Green hopes to expand Bridge the Gap’s services to veterans and other homeless organizations.
“There’s a hole in the labor market,” Green says. A lot of negative connotations come with being identified as homeless, which makes finding jobs difficult for homeless individuals, he explains.
“It’s kind of tougher for companies to take a look at [homeless individuals] because there’s assumed risk that comes along with being homeless, not having a car, not having transportation,” he says.
Green thinks of homelessness as a “situation,” not a “lifelong predisposition.” Homelessness and unemployment create a chicken-and-egg paradox. Bridge the Gap aims to break the seemingly permanent cycle.
To mitigate the risks for companies interested in hiring homeless individuals, Bridge the Gap trains applicants with a three-pillar approach. After the interview is conducted and paperwork is processed, applicants enter pillar one to re-instill work ethic.
“They come and work under our managed care,” Green says. “So, we’re the supervisors instead of sending them out to our clients.”
Working on internal projects at BridgeWorks’ warehouses and facilities, individuals receive coaching and training throughout pillar one.
“Then after we feel comfortable making it through that process, we help take them into pillar two which is a temp-to-hire type process,” Green says. With the improved ethics gained from pillar one, the individuals work 90 days as temporary employees at local companies.
Upon completing the 90-day work trial, the employees are eligible for full-time hire if the company so desires.
Homelessness “is just a position for the moment. It’s not a disposition in their life, and we can help them get out of that,” Green says. “I personally think employment is such an extremely important part of that. It’s not just employment for employment’s sake; it’s gainful employment.”
While Miracle Hill provides a strong base for improving homeless individuals’ lives, BridgeWorks provides potential for long-term success and independence.
Rick, a Greenville Rescue Mission guest employed through Bridge the Gap who asked that his last name not be used for this article, would never have imagined four months prior that he now would have a chance at full-time employment.
“[BridgeWorks] sounded a little bit too good to be true, but I was very wrong,” Rick says. “Everything I was looking for in a job, I’ve found it where I am right now.”
Greenville Area Unemployment Data
14,233 unemployed individuals
3.3 percent unemployment rate