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FLINT, Mich. — Diplomat on Thursday was lauded for its civic efforts and proclaimed “a fabulous company” by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in the governor’s annual State of the State address delivered last night from the state capital in Lansing.
Gov. Snyder recognized Diplomat for its ongoing partnership with St. Luke North End Women's Life Enterprises, a scrub uniform and accessories business started in Flint in 2008 by two Roman Catholic nuns, Sr. Carol Weber and Sr. Judy Blake. Both women, who were in the audience, were commended by the Governor during his address for their entrepreneurial success.
Through the partnership with Diplomat, N.E.W. Life was introduced to the state’s economic team and is now part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Community Ventures program. Community Ventures was heralded by Gov. Snyder as providing meaningful job opportunities for the structurally unemployed; the government program also aims to improve public safety and grow the economy in the state’s most challenged urban centers.
N.E.W. Life Enterprises was formed by St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, a faith-based program that incorporates education and workplace training to help women become self-sufficient providers for their families. In addition to general life skills, women receive workplace training in several areas, including learning to sew. At the conclusion of the program, women may apply for a job as a seamstress at N.E.W. Life Enterprises, which makes I.D. lanyards and cell phone covers in addition to its core business of scrub tops and bottoms, hospital gowns and adult garment protectors. N.E.W. Life currently has 26 employees, with a targeted goal of 100 employees by fourth quarter 2014 with the assistance of the MEDC.
Acknowledging Gov. Snyder’s remarks about Diplomat, company CEO Phil Hagerman noted Diplomat’s director of community relations and government affairs Steve Wolbert was instrumental in bringing N.E.W. Life Enterprises to the attention of Diplomat and other collaborative Flint corporate partners.
“In the summer of 2012, Diplomat formalized its community outreach efforts and hired Steve Wolbert to serve as a liaison between Diplomat and Flint’s civic and business leaders,” Hagerman said. “Steve enthusiastically embraced the position, seeking out and developing community programs that have a measurable impact on the economy and quality of life here. He not only serves as an outstanding ambassador for Diplomat, Steve exemplifies the Diplomat motto to be a force for good as he brings people together to further programs like N.E.W. Life that create jobs and hope for a rebirth in our region.”