Grand Traverse Industries provides on-the-job training and programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. They are in need of support with everything from activities to transportation. Learn how you can support this project and additional Northern Michigan nonprofits featured in our 2021 GIVE issue.
Grand Traverse Industries (GTI) may look like an ordinary manufacturing building. Inside, employees in hard hats and goggles hustle about the echoing facility where plastic garbage bags are made. But it’s hard to miss that the environment is vibrant and fun, with a distinctly happy vibe.

That’s because while a quality finished product is certainly part of GTI’s mission, another core mission is to offer on-the-job training for those with developmental disabilities, to help them find meaningful employment and a whole lot more.

GTI does this by providing high-level support and skills teaching, both on-site at their manufacturing facilities in Traverse City and Mancelona, and at other locations throughout the community. For example, one crew with disabilities heads out daily with a GTI staff member who helps them with their job preparing and serving lunch at Interlochen Arts Academy.

But aside from providing job skills, one of the lesser-known aspects of their work is creating an overall sense of community and engagement for those with disabilities. In addition to job skills, GTI also offers a day program for individuals with significant disabilities.

“Some may work a bit, depending on their interest or ability,” explains Cindy Evans, Grand Traverse Industries’ executive director. “We provide a setting that keeps them actively engaged, and offer things like arts, crafts, music, occupational and physical therapy. We know that having a routine and active engagement for them makes for better health outcomes.”

GTI also provides experiences that help disabled individuals engage with the community through things such as bowling, fishing trips, swimming or outings to the movies. “You have no idea what it’s like to see the smile on someone’s face who has just gone fishing for the first time,” Evans says. “It’s just the best thing ever, helping people do things the rest of us take for granted.”

The revenue from the business venture funds GTI’s efforts. But also welcomed and intrinsic to their success, are the businesses putting paychecks in the hands of individuals with disabilities by partnering with GTI for their packaging and assembly needs.

Community donations are so appreciated and help support things like activities, transportation and the purchase of equipment such as physical therapy tables. Donate at and follow them on Facebook for a glimpse into the many success stories, outings and adventures they help provide.

This Article Was First Featured in Northern Michigan GIVE 2021

Read more Northern Michigan nonprofit stories and learn how to donate and volunteer in the free edition of MyNorth GIVE 2021. You can also preview and purchase our digital issues Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.

Northern Michigan GIVE 2021 by MyNorth

Photo by MyNorth Media

Photo(s) by Grand Traverse Industries