As the co-founders of Modern Content in Brighton, Stefan Kogler and John Ivers make their living providing digital and social media marketing services to businesses.
Now they are providing people with autism an opportunity to do the same.
Kogler and Ivers have launched Power to the Grid, a division of Modern Content that offers training and employment opportunities to "uniquely gifted" individuals on the autism spectrum. The idea, Kogler said, is to provide those individuals with entry-level positions in digital and social media marketing.
"Some of them are great photographers, some of them are great writers, some of them are great designers," said Kogler.
Social communication issues can overshadow those talents and become a barrier to employment, he said.
"When these individuals transition from school to the workplace, they are marginalized — so they are basically off the grid," Kogler said. "But they are one of the most capable, untapped workforces out there."
Power to the Grid is looking for small and midsize businesses that could use its services. About a dozen clients already are on board, Kogler said.
Small-business owners are invited to learn more about Power to Grid during a special ribbon-cutting celebration from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Brewery Becker, 500 W. Main St. in Brighton. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will attend the ceremony as part of the Michigan Hidden Talent Tour, which promotes opportunities for workforce inclusion for people with disabilities.
It's a win-win situation, Ivers said. Small businesses can get much-needed marketing services at a price point they can afford while talented people with autism get a chance to hone their skills and build their portfolios and resumes.
"We like to think of the business model as being at the intersection of business intent and social responsibility," Ivers said. "The business intent is we provide best-in-class marketing services; the social responsibility is helping find a solution to transition these unique individuals who have a barrier to employment."