City Hall send-off for Wash Cycle Laundry’s D.C. expansion

After three and a half years of lugging laundry by bike, Philadelphia’s Wash Cycle Laundry is expanding to Washington, D.C.

After three and a half years of lugging laundry by bike, Philadelphia’s Wash Cycle Laundry is expanding to Washington, D.C.

And it’s biking there.

The social enterprise (a business that looks to make money and have a positive social impact) was treated to a City Hall send-off Friday.

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Since October 2010, Wash Cycle has lugged more than 2 million pounds of laundry by bike — picking up and delivering clothes, towels and linens with special trailers, instead of creating pollution by using a car or truck.

“Making a jump from a laundromat in West Philadelphia to four laundromats to now two markets has not been a lonely journey in the slightest,” said founder and CEO Gabriel Mandujano. “It takes a village to raise an entrepreneur, and, certainly, we’ve had a lot of support along the way.”

Members of that village gathered in the courtyard of Philadelphia City Hall to wish the company well on its 150-mile-long bike trek. An eight-member team leaves Sunday. Business in Washington opens on Tuesday.

Philly’s deputy mayor for economic development Alan Greenberger said Wash Cycle is a poster child for the city’s growing scene of do-gooding businesses.

“You said that almost half of [your 30-person] workforce comes from vulnerable populations — welfare-to-work, ex-offenders,” he said. “Your ability to retain people from the vulnerable populations in your work is probably double the average in this city. That’s really commendable.”

Wash Cycle packed symbols of Philadelphia for its journey to Washington. Well-wishers loaded soft pretzels, Tastykakes and locally made biscotti into the company’s special, orange bike-trailer.

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