Industries for the Blind (IFB) announced today that it has acquired Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind (ALB) based in Little Rock, Ark. The combined organization will make IFB-ALB the largest agency for the blind in the U.S. and expand IFB’s operational footprint further west. IFB has existing facilities in Asheville, N.C. The headquarters organization, Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, based in Winston-Salem, made the acquisition.
Together, the two agencies have more than 150 years of experience in providing employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired with ALB founded in 1940 and IFB founded in 1936. Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind’s chief executive officer Bill Johnson along with Dan Boucher, IFB’s Executive Chair are credited with recognizing that the agencies’ shared histories could be combined to create a brighter future, that will sustain, maintain and grow opportunities for people who are blind.
“In partnership with Bill, his staff and the ALB board, we determined that the acquisition of ALB would enable both organizations to leverage our experienced workforces, manufacturing capabilities and customer relationships to pursue new opportunities for growing employment for people who are blind or visually impaired,” said David Horton, executive director of Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind. “Our operations are very complementary, so joining our organizations will be a seamless process.”
ALB will retain its name, and there will be no changes to its blind or visually impaired workforce. “In working with IFB, it was paramount to us as a board that all of our employees who are blind or visually impaired know that their jobs are secure,” said Pat Smith, chairwoman of the ALB Board. “Together, we are stronger organizations in pursuing new opportunities that will grow blind employment here in Arkansas as well as IFB’s existing facilities in North Carolina.”
The two organizations celebrated the announcement with employees at ALB’s facility located at 6818 Murray Street in Little Rock.
“Today is a wonderful new chapter for both IFB and ALB,” said Horton. “Our shared mission is to provide employment, training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. Together, we’ll be able to make an even greater impact in creating jobs and changing lives.”