Sept. 26, 2019—Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications and community affairs for Mercedes-Benz USA, recently discussed the company’s Greatness Lives Here initiative with Ratchet+Wrench.
As told to Tess Collins
In July of 2015, we moved our headquarters from New Jersey to Atlanta. During the process of moving, we learned what an amazing partnership Atlanta had with the business and philanthropic community in the area.
Our employees are oriented toward volunteering. We wanted to start putting roots down in the community so by the time our employees were here and in the community we had some alignment so we could immediately jump in and help.
Mercedes is synonymous with success so we wanted to know, what can we do to ensure that the next generation has the tools it needs to succeed? We focused on a handful of organizations—like Junior Achievement—that were well-known but we kept finding smaller organizations that we were really impressed with.
We wanted to be more than a transplant when we moved, we wanted to be a part of the community. We wanted to share a spotlight on stories that made us really excited about our new home here. There were a handful that we could all agree on. The idea for shining the spotlight on these people became Greatness Lives Here.
Greatness Lives Here is a series of short videos about these people. We’ve continued with the program and we now have 20 of our “heroes” that we’ve made videos for that are working in the community.
Spotlight: Larry Witherspoon
Larry Witherspoon, founder of the Automotive Training Center (ATC) in East Point, Ga., is one of people in the Greatness Lives Here initiative. Witherspoon was an at-risk youth who decided to create a path toward gainful employment for those in his community. He founded ATC in 2014.
ATC provides young adults with technical training so that they may obtain entry-level employment in the automotive repair industry. Having a technical skill dramatically increases the odds of young adults escaping a life of crime, which is often the fallback option for adults and ex-convicts trying to earn money after lacking training to gain employment.
To date, 86 young men and women have graduated from ATC and more than 80 percent are currently employed.
Mercedes-Benz USA recently spotlighted Witherspoon's amazing work in its latest Greatness Lives Here short documentary. Tune in to hear a podcast featuring Witherspoon in the next few weeks.