ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A new ice cream shop is coming to western North Carolina, and the focus is on employing people with special needs. 

Pete Brewer and his wife, Betsy, are behind the idea. They’re franchising the Texas-based company Howdy Homemade Ice Cream.

Brewer said the reason for this is because their daughter, Annie, has autism and will need a place to work when she graduates high school.

“It’s very important to us that she has fulfilling employment,” Brewer said.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 82% of adults with special needs were unemployed in 2020. In 2019, 81% of those adults were unemployed. 

Brewer is putting the ice cream shop right next to T.C. Roberson High School, where Annie attends. He plans to have interns walk over to work in the ice cream shop and provide other adults in the community with gainful employment. 

Depending on each person’s capabilities, Brewer said employees can either work in the front of the store with customers or work behind-the-scenes.

Pete and Betsy Brewer signed their lease earlier this summer, and they plan to open the doors in the fall.