by Amy K. Lavender

A project that has been two years in the making is finally coming to fruition as Southwire launches Carrollton’s first-ever bike sharing program with the help of Tanner Health System and students in the first cohort of the University of West Georgia (UWG) Southwire Sustainable Business Honors (SSBH) Program.

UWG President Dr. Kyle Marrero; Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Environmental Health and Safety and Quality Jeff Herrin; President/CEO of Tanner Health System Loy Howard
Left to right: UWG President Dr. Kyle Marrero; Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Environmental Health and Safety and Quality Jeff Herrin; President/CEO of Tanner Health System Loy Howard

Working together, UWG and Southwire Company created the SSBH program three years ago with the aim of giving high-achieving business majors in the Richards College of Business a unique opportunity to complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only four years as well as complete internships and receive sustainability certificates.

There’s no other program like it in the nation. And like no other program in the nation, it gives students one-of-a-kind opportunities to shape their community. As part of the unique curriculum, SSBH students complete five projects before completing the program. Each project adheres to one of Southwire’s five tenets: Giving Back, Living Well, Growing Green, Building Worth and Doing Right.

In its second year of the program, SSBH Cohort 1 began its Living Well project. The students were given an open directive to create or improve a wellness program for Southwire employees for $20,000.

“We presented our idea to the board of directors and then CEO Stu Thorn,” said SSBH Cohort 1 student Garrett Bishop, “and we only got about three slides in to our presentation before he stopped us and said, ‘OK, how do we make this work?’ From then on we were talking logistics.”

The group was sent to Chattanooga, Tenn., to see a successful bike-sharing program in action. Shortly after their return, Southwire began helping them make their program a reality.

Jonathan Bell, Amelia Farmer, Blair Fox, Tiffany Ramroop, Hannah Beth Baldizon, Monica Collins
Left to right: Jonathan Bell, Amelia Farmer, Blair Fox, Tiffany Ramroop, Hannah Beth Baldizon, Monica Collins

“It started as an idea for Southwire employees, but then Tanner Health System and UWG got involved, too,” said SSBH Program Director Mandy Beaumel. “And, of course, we had to talk with the city of Carrollton and figure out how we could make this work. With all of these parties talking and exploring the idea, it was decided that the city of Carrollton would contract with the company that will maintain the bikes, and UWG, Southwire and Tanner will donate the funds to get the program started.”

The bike-sharing program will ultimately have 10 stations along the Carrollton Greenbelt – a paved biking and walking trail that winds through town – each with 20 bikes available for rent. Southwire, UWG and Tanner employees will be able to use their company ID cards at the stations, while Carrollton residents and visitors will be able to swipe a credit card. Beaumel said Cohort 1 made getting others on board with the plan pretty easy.

“They really did their homework on this project,” she said. “They researched all aspects of it really well and did a great job incorporating the resources we already had in place, like the Greenbelt, to make it feasible.”

The students are also pretty proud of their work, saying it added another dimension to their experience with the program.

“The bike-sharing program was probably my favorite project of all the ones we did,” said SSBH Cohort 1 student Blair Fox. “It’s an opportunity we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. We learned a lot, but it was also a lot of fun.”

Posted on February 27, 2017