Thursday’s opening of a new business in the South End of Bridgeport was marked by second chances — for a building that’s been vacant for 17 years, for the recycled materials that will come from the facility and, most importantly, for workers who will find new opportunities.
Future Healthcare Systems, a medical waste processing facility, marked its opening Thursday at 750 South Ave., nearly in the shadow of Interstate 95, with a promise to work closely with the community and to employ ex-offenders who are in need of work.
“We want to be one of Bridgeport’s employers of choice,” said Charlie Dippolito Jr., senior vice president of the company based in Westchester County, N.Y.
Most of Connecticut’s nonhazardous medical waste is currently processed in out-of-state facilities, and Future Healthcare provides a location in Connecticut that can do the job faster and with fewer steps. The Bridgeport location processes about 100,000 pounds a month, mostly from local health care providers, though it is licensed for up to 3 million pounds a month. It is currently in talks with local hospitals about accepting their waste.
The 25,000-square-foot facility employs 17 people; its Mt. Vernon, N.Y., location employs 80, and Dippolito said Bridgeport could easily accommodate that many workers as it grows.
The business sterilizes large volumes of medical waste, some of which can be recycled and the rest of which can be incinerated in the Wheelabrator trash-burning plant a few blocks away. “Our goal is to reduce the cost of medical waste disposal, reduce the carbon footprint of its disposal and reduce the liability the generators own, from one to two weeks to one day,” Dippolito said.
The idea for the facility dates to 2014, and the company was the beneficiary of a $750,000 loan package from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. Bart Kollen, a deputy commissioner at DECD, said Thursday the company fulfills a need in two of the state’s economic priorities — health care and green energy.
It’s the latest business to set up shop in what’s called the Eco-Technology Park, a collection of like-minded companies around the area including a fuel-cell facility, a mattress-recycling business and a company that makes permeable pavement. City officials have cited the area as a national model for growing businesses with an eye toward sustainability.
But it was the jobs that took priority for most people attending Thursday’s ceremony. Jeff Grant, executive director of the Family Re-Entry nonprofit agency, said businesses like Future Healthcare are essential for helping people who might not otherwise get an opportunity. “It’s good for our program and it’s good for our people,” he said.