Greenville Tech supports Truist Culinary and Hospitality Innovation Center – Upstate Business Journal

Written by Amanda

Ben Swanson has always been passionate about cooking — as a young child, he was “mom’s little helper” in the kitchen. Swanson is in recovery at Miracle Hill Ministries, celebrating 1.5 years of sobriety.  Daniel Coe, kitchen manager at Miracle Hill, saw Swanson’s enthusiasm and determination working as shift leader. He encouraged Swanson to complete the Basic Cooking Skills Quick Jobs Program at the Truist Culinary and Hospitality Innovation Center (CHI) and Swanson said he would.

“It’s fun to learn new things – and it’s a joy to see people’s reactions when they eat the food,” Swanson said.

Swanson graduated from the inaugural class in November 2020 and credits his new employment to completing the program, “I couldn’t have done it without the certificate.  When I interviewed, the executive chef said the certificate was all he needed to see.”  He was able to complete the program with scholarship funding from the Truist Foundation and is now employed at Bob Jones University in dining services.

“I’m excited to get to work in the morning,” Swanson says. ” I walk in the door and never know what I’ll be doing. That’s part of the excitement; every day is different.  I hope anyone taking the class finds a good job they enjoy.”

On Sept. 29, 2020, Truist Financial Corp. — the bank born of the 2019 merger of BB&T and SunTrust — was honored at a virtual ribbon-cutting of the Truist Culinary & Hospitality Innovation Center, known as CHI. CHI offers job training, recreational classes for home cooks, and corporate team-building events.

Greenville Tech Foundation acknowledges Truist, along with Greenville-based Trehel Corp., a general contractor and construction management firm, and Fluor Corp., a multinational engineering and construction company, for their tens of thousands of dollars in donations.  GTF’s Workforce Development Salute will honor these donors on Nov. 2, 2021.

“Not only did that gift help with this renovation, but the gift lives on; it actually will also help us here with offsetting student fees and programming costs,” says Ann Wright, Greenville Tech Foundation’s vice president for advancement.

Located in the Village of West Greenville, CHI brings educational and job-creation opportunities to the low- to moderate-income area — a “moonshot opportunity,” according to Judy Wilson, Greenville Tech Foundation’s director of development.

“This was just the unique opportunity to do something in a space that maybe you wouldn’t typically think a bank would invest in,” says Mike Brenan, BB&T’s South Carolina regional president.

The state-of-the-art campus adds to the technical college’s Quick Jobs with a Future Program, which boasts a work-placement success rate of 80%, according to the Greenville Tech Foundation.

“The restaurant and hospitality industry has always been one of the front-line industries in most of these markets, really a lot of the markets, because of all the tourism across South Carolina,” says Matt Giddens, SunTrust’s community development manager.

Wright credits Giddens with shepherding the project.

“We absolutely would not be here today were it not for Matt Giddens,” she says of the bank officer who also enlisted more than a half-dozen partners including the city of Greenville and noted Upstate restaurateur Rick Erwin.

The Rick Erwin Dining Group owner notes that CHI, which supplements Greenville Tech’s slate of degree programs at its Culinary Institute of the Carolinas, offers additional hands-on training in baking, serving, line cook work, knife skills, and other restaurant and hospitality competencies.

Says Erwin, “This will help us tremendously in our industry, just the location and what it can do to help our community.”

Truist Culinary & Hospitality Innovation Center is about more than checking accounts

Truist’s largesse extends beyond monetary donations. So says Steve Wareham, who earned a promotion to branch manager at the bank’s SunTrust location in Spartanburg largely because of his employer’s encouragement.

Before moving to Greenville in 2014 with his wife and four children, Wareham says he found himself stuck for 10 years as a teller-manager.

“It was frustrating for me at the time. I had high performance for a long time, but I just couldn’t break through without getting some sort of degree,” he says.

Enter Greenville Tech — and Truist. While the bank offers tuition reimbursement for employees planning to continue in the financial industry, Wareham says he decided to forgo the aid because he wanted to pursue his passions: psychology and counseling.

In lieu of financial assistance, he says, the bank gave him “time and freedom and flexibility. In the banking world, that’s really hard to find.”

For two grueling years, he worked full-time as teller-manager at the Pelham Road branch, while also taking a full course load, primarily online, but with required on-site visits to campus, often during work hours — and helping out at home. In 2016, he earned a Greenville Tech associate’s degree with a 4.0 grade point average. Now 39, he manages a SunTrust branch in Spartanburg.

Of the bank’s non-monetary assistance in his case, he says, “They basically said, ‘Listen, we understand that this may affect your performance, we understand this may affect you on a day-to-day basis, and that may make our jobs a little bit harder, but this is important, we need the best version of you, and it’s going to be bolstered by education.’”

Source: upstatebusinessjournal.com

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Hi there, I am Amanda and I work as an editor at impactinvesting.ai;  if you are interested in my services, please reach me at amanda.impactinvesting.ai