IFB Solutions, formerly Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, was recently honored with a 2016 Employment Growth Award for its efforts to increase employment retention, growth, and upward mobility for people who are blind. Presented by National Industries for the Blind (NIB), this award recognizes IFB’s commitment to increasing employment and economic opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired.

IFB Solutions has received this national award in prior years, and is the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the country. Across its three locations in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., IFB Solutions employs more than 450 individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

The Employee Growth Award highlights the importance of creating and sustaining employment opportunities. According to NIB, there is a 70 percent unemployment rate for working-aged Americans who are blind, so all efforts to create jobs help are vital to changing this statistic and providing economic and personal freedom for people with visual disabilities.

“This award reflects the tireless efforts of our team to create jobs for people who are blind or visually impaired – many of whom have never had the opportunity to bring home a paycheck,” said David Horton, CEO of IFB Solutions. “Through quality jobs, specialized training and a wide-range of services, we are fostering greater independence and improving the quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired.”

Horton highlighted IFB’s success in growing its Optical division as a key contributor to the organization’s employment record in 2016. Across all of its divisions, IFB Solutions grew Blind Hours Worked by more 43,000 hours in fiscal year 2016, which equates to 21 additional jobs. In late 2016, IFB joined forces with the Department of Veterans Affairs in court proceedings to protect the non-profit’s right to pursue optical contracts.  Without a favorable court ruling, IFB’s Optical jobs could be in jeopardy.

Employment Growth Award recipients are awarded cash payments from a fund created to recognize and encourage NIB-associated nonprofit agencies that grow or sustain employment for people who are blind.

“It is an honor for me to recognize IFB Solutions with an Employment Growth Award for 2016,” said Kevin Lynch, president and CEO of NIB. “IFB continues to lead the way in creating employment and high-growth career opportunities for people who are blind.”