Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. (UNITED) and Rural Development Partners (RDP) jointly funded a $200,000 investment in Technical and Industrial Education in South Georgia through RDP’s Community Investment Program. The collaborative grant was awarded to the Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) Foundation, which will utilize the funds to support SRTC’s Technical and Industrial programs and students in the Tifton area.
“We are so appreciative of this generous investment in our College and most importantly, our students,” said SRTC President Jim Glass. “This gift will directly benefit students now and in the future, who will in turn strengthen the Tifton-area workforce. We are grateful for extraordinary partnerships with world-class organizations like Coca-Cola UNITED and Rural Development Partners, and we look forward to a fruitful relationship over the life of this grant and beyond.”
Fifty-thousand dollars of the grant has been designated to create a new SRTC Foundation scholarship that will benefit Technical and Industrial students living in Colquitt, Tift, Turner, or Worth counties. The $500 scholarship will help the College recruit new students and assist enrolled students in their selected program of study. The awards may help cover tuition, books, fees, and required education-related expenses such as uniforms, tools, and health examinations. The gift will make scholarship awards available each fall, spring, and summer semester as funds allow.
The remainder of the grant monies will benefit Technical and Industrial programs at SRTC-Tifton, including the popular Commercial Truck Driving Program. Commercial Truck Driving Program Chair Kerrie Wilson said that thanks to the grant, her program will be able to invest in new and upgraded equipment that will better prepare her students for their careers. “This grant will enable the program to purchase a newer commercial truck that has certain industry-standard safety mitigation systems. Systems like automatic braking and blind-spot detection are features that our graduates will encounter when they go to work in the industry.”
Coca-Cola UNITED, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, is the second largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in North America and the third largest Coca-Cola bottler in the U.S., with over 60 locations across the Southeast. The family-owned, independent Company opened its new $60 million state-of-the-art sales and distribution center in May 2021 in Tifton, Georgia. As a distribution center, the location will be an employer of Commercial Truck Drivers. The Company’s March 6 job fair was exclusively for CDL driver recruitment, an indication of the center’s demand for professional drivers. Local relationships, personalized customer service and strong community engagement have been the foundation of Coca-Cola UNITED for more than a century.
“We are excited about our significant investment in Tifton and the impact it will have on our new community in South Georgia,” said Hafiz Chandiwala, Coca-Cola UNITED Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer.” This project is another example of Coca-Cola UNITED’s foundation of community investment and development, and will greatly benefit our associates, the local residents and our Company for many years to come.”
Rural Development Partners (RDP), a Community Development Entity with a nationwide service area, uses New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) to encourage businesses to expand in distressed rural communities, bringing quality jobs that are accessible to the local workforce RDP’s Community Investment Program recognizes that supporting workforce development efforts becomes a natural win-win for local workers and the business bringing the new jobs. During the NMTC closing process, RDP identifies and meets with local leaders who understand where and how to apply workforce development dollars for the greatest impact. RDP asks the business, in this case Coca-Cola UNITED, to jointly fund the grant with RDP and to participate in the grant planning process. The overarching goal is to help uplift low-income workers and communities, which also benefits local businesses and more effectively achieves RDP’s mission.
“Rural Development Partners was proud to allocate a portion of its New Markets Tax Credit award toward the Coca-Cola UNITED expansion in Tifton at the end of 2020,” said Jonathan Klaassen, Rural Development Partner’s Chief Executive Officer. “Now we are excited to announce this jointly funded grant, which is intended to help the local workforce embrace these great new jobs. SRTC’s excellent programs and its intimate knowledge of the community are essential to putting these dollars to work for the greatest benefit of the Tifton area workforce.”
The SRTC Foundation is a nonprofit corporation with the mission of encouraging, receiving, and administering financial gifts that benefit the College or college activities. The Foundation’s priority is providing support that enhances student learning. “We are committed to helping students reach their highest potential and career goals,” said SRTC President Jim Glass. “Whether students are looking to earn college credit while in high school, earn a degree in a high demand program, advance in their current job, or gain the skills for an entirely new career field, we are prepared to meet the needs of our students and the community we serve.”
To apply for this and other scholarships, please visit www.southernregional.edu/foundation.