Rise added 155 team members and began serving an additional 500 people this summer.
ESR, a nonprofit agency which provides services to people throughout Washington County, Minnesota, and St. Croix County, Wisconsin, officially became a subsidiary of Rise on July 1. The two agencies will transition into a full merger by January 2019.
After more than 40 years of working the vocational rehabilitation field, Ed Boeve, ESR’s executive director, retired July 1, 2018. He is, however, working part-time through the end of the year to help the merger process.
“Initially the ESR Board of Directors was going to hire someone to fill my position, but they were also looking at other options, including merging with another agency,” said Ed. “Several Minnesota organizations had expressed an interest, but after two or three months of a mutual discovery process, the Rise Board and the ESR Board decided our merger was the best option for everyone.”
Rise President Lynn Noren concurred. “Given all the changes in our industry, the leadership and boards of both organizations have concluded that this partnership will result in a stronger combined organization in the future.”
“ESR has a 54-year history of providing quality employment services to the people they serve and Rise is excited for the opportunity to partner with them,” Lynn continued. “Our missions and service philosophies are nearly identical, so we anticipate a smooth transition of professional team members, the people we serve, as well as their families and support staff.”
ESR has five locations: Stillwater, Cottage Grove, Forest Lake, Oakdale (all in Washington County), and New Richmond, Wis. These will remain open, although most of ESR’s administrative functions, such as accounting and human resources, will move to Rise’s main office in Spring Lake Park by the end of 2018.
Two members of ESR’s board of directors joined Rise’s board in June. Susan Langfeldt works for Bremer Bank and lives in Deer Park, Wis.; Kelly Steffens of Prior Lake is corporate counsel with Home Services America.
“In the past few months, Lynn and Rise’s Senior Leadership Team have spent a lot of time meeting with ESR staff and family members at all five locations to answer their questions and address whatever concerns they may have,” Ed noted. “I think people realize that, for the most part, it will continue to be ‘business as usual’ and that our two agencies will be even stronger together.”
“Our team members are meeting with community organizations and employers to introduce them to Rise and further solidify the already-established partnerships they have had with ESR,” Lynn added. “We are confident we will be able to continue to build upon these mutually beneficial work relationships.”