Employer of Choice: It makes sense to support program that supports you

Published 1:41 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

As companies compete for employees, supporting Ignite Davie College Promise could be a long-term answer.

A new marketing program offers rewards to participating companies while helping to raise the final $1 million to fully endow Ignite Davie for future generations.

“The Employer of Choice Program gives businesses a great opportunity to fill local positions with local workers,” said Melinda Szeliga, Davie Community Foundation COO.  “Your business will stay on the mind of graduating students while Ignite Davie empowers them with the education and training needed after high school. It’s a win for students, a win for business, and a win for the community.”

Fuller Welding & Fabricators was the first business to accept the challenge.

“I don’t see this as a donation. This is an investment in my company and this community,” said the company’s founder and president, Phil Fuller. “Most of the first $2 million has been raised from individuals. The business community hasn’t really been asked for money, so this initiative is a way for them to support this program. Considering that we are trying to educate their future employees, why wouldn’t they?”

Ignite Davie partners Phil and Darlene Fuller have been enthusiastic and generous supporters of the program since its inception. Like the other partners, they recognized that education is one of the most critical factors in a community’s economic success. More education means more opportunity for everyone. Yet the soaring cost of college prevents many students from furthering their education.

Ignite Davie will raise the educational attainment of Davie residents through tuition assistance to attend community college. All eligible high school graduates, regardless of financial need or academic ability, can continue their education and training to open the door to better career opportunities and increased earning potential.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to provide an education for students who may not be able to go to school otherwise. Hopefully, this will help our kids choose to stay and work in Davie County and to be able to support their families and live good lives here,” said Fuller, who hasn’t had the opportunity to hire an Ignite Davie graduate, but looks forward to doing so.

Fuller reflected on the early days of his business, which he started 50 years ago at age 19. “The first 10 years were tough, and at times I didn’t think I’d make it. But I kept hammering at it and came out on the other side. Folks from this county kept me from starving, and now I’m proud to be able to give back.

“Ignite Davie is the best thing going. I’ve talked to many people from other communities, and they have nothing like it.  They are always amazed and want to know how to get their own program started.

“I encourage every business in Davie County, large or small, to join the Employer of Choice program. Ignite Davie will make a huge difference in the future of this county, and it is our duty to participate.”

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Davie Medical Center was the second organization to answer the call. It has a longstanding tradition of supporting Davie students through tours to middle school students as part of Manufacturing Day, participating in career fairs at Davie High, and providing internships to students interested in medical careers.

Becoming one of the first companies to join the Ignite Davie Employer of Choice program was a perfect way for the medical center to continue that commitment.

“We are excited to continue to support our community and Davie County students through Ignite Davie,” said Chad Brown, president of Davie Medical Center.

“Ignite Davie has had such a tremendous impact on our students and families, and we are proud to be a partner in continuing this tradition. Investing in the education of our rising students, especially those interested in healthcare fields, is very important to Davie Medical Center. The Davie community has supported and invested in our hospital, so this is an opportunity for Davie Medical Center to give back.”

Davie Medical Center already had a history of hiring students directly from Davie High. Now those new hires also include Ignite Davie students.   

Richard McDaniel, a 2023 graduate of Davie High,  is part of the NA to RN (NAvigate) Program and will start the nursing program at Davidson Davie Community College at the end of August. He started as a volunteer at Davie Medical Center while attending Davie High School.

He was one of the students DDCC admitted straight to the nursing program from high school. McDaniel is the first NA to RN Apprentice entering the RIBN Program (regionally increasing baccalaureate nurses) at DDCC.

After completing his associate’s degree in nursing free through Ignite Davie, he will transfer to NC A&T University and enter their BSN program.

“We have now had the pleasure of working with multiple Ignite Davie graduates here at Davie Medical Center,” said Marlee McConnell, BSN, RN clinical educator. “We are passionate about offering opportunities for students here in Davie County to learn and grow. Looking toward the future of working with more Ignite Davie graduates is exciting, and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of their journey to success.”

Ignite Davie encourages employers to participate. Levels have been designed to fit every size budget.

“Special thanks to Fuller Welding and Davie Medical Center for being the first to support the Employer of Choice Program,” said Carolyn McManamy, director of DavieCONNECT. “We hope many others will join them. Businesses who commit to the Employer of Choice Program by Aug. 31 will have their logos printed on all promotional banners, and will give Ignite Davie plenty of time to promote them before the end of the year.”

Ready to learn more about the Employer of Choice Program?

Contact McManamy at 336-753-6670 or visit www.ignitedavie.com.

“We think you’ll be proud to be involved. It’s a win for students, a win for business, and a win for the community.”