Coca-Cola Pledges $135,000 For STC Trucking Program
Coca-Cola hosted a block party at the Vidalia campus of Southeastern Technical College to celebrate its donation of $135,000 to the trucking department of the institution. The celebration featured music, games, coke products, and more, as students were made more aware of the benefits that continued from page
the truck driving industry has to offer.
This contribution comes as a part of Coca-Cola’s pledge of $1 million to put more Georgia commercial truck drivers on the road. Georgia truck drivers move over 435 million tons of goods across the state each year. Since COVID struck the nation, the commercial trucking industry across the country has lost 6% of its work force, and is expected to reach peak deficit with a shortage of 160,000 drivers in 2028.
“As residents and businesses across the state work to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to invest in our communities and provide opportunities that will improve the lives of our fellow Georgians,” said Alfredo Rivera, President of The Coca-Cola Company’s North America Operating Unit. “We are proud of our Georgia roots and will continue to do our part to keep Georgia strong.”
Coca-Cola South Zone President Jeremy Faa explained, “Without truck drivers, we don’t have a business, so what is important is to increase the amount of students that graduate with a truck driving license.” Faa continued, “We were really looking for a way to help the community and help address this important business, as well as invest in Georgia. With this money, as well as some other promised state funds, we should be able to double the number of people that graduate with a truck driver’s license throughout the state.”
STC President Larry Calhoun shared his thoughts on the occasion. “Anyone that keeps up with things knows that nationwide, we have a shortage of truck drivers,” he remarked. “At the rate we are currently training truck drivers, in 5 years, the nationwide shortage will be 160,000 truck drivers. If a person stops and thinks, everything they touch or that touches them got here on a truck, probably on several trucks. The importance of those truck drivers cannot be overstated.”
Calhoun went on to explain that the trucking industry is about to see a great increase in retired truck drivers, as the average age for a truck driver is currently 55.
“This is an effort by Coca-Cola to help with that issue,” he noted. “Certainly, to Coca-Cola’s credit, they did not say, ‘This is only for people that will work for Coca-Cola;’ they said, ‘This is to help the state, nation, and local area have more truck drivers, which we will get our share of.’” Calhoun stated that STC currently has one full-time and five part-time commercial truck driving instructors. According to him, this donation by Coca-Cola will allow the College to hire another full-time and two part-time instructors for the year. “It will be a little tight on trucks and trailers, but we think we can make it work,” he said. “Last year, we graduated and certified 90 drivers at our two locations; 100% of those graduates went to work as truck drivers, so it is not a matter of finding a job, but finding the job that best suits you.”
The College also received $276,000 from the Governor’s budget to do some track repair on the Vidalia Campus, while the Technical College System of Georgia granted money to craft a new truck driving track on the Swainsboro campus of the institute.
“We have some great tracks, we have great instructors, and we are very excited about the future,” he concluded. “Our summer truck driving course is full, but we do still have some openings for the fall class, so anyone interested may contact the College.”