Spartan Motors reflects on the strength of community connections

Health care and jobs are two of the obvious socioeconomic factors impacting Michigan residents today. Yet, it is the connections – between people, businesses and resources – that allow a community to grow and do great things, no matter its size or its challenges.

This is the belief of the leadership at Spartan Motors, anchored in Charlotte, Mich., for the last 35 years.

"There is a quality and magnitude to this small community," said Janine Nierenberger, manager of Human Resources at Spartan Motors. "Many of our employees live in the area. The people, employers, programs – they all interrelate to create a great place to live and work."

Charlotte today is very different than it was 25 years ago. "There has been broad collaborative leadership involvement in a strategic process over the last 10 to 12 years," said Matt Rush, Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital president and CEO. "They recognized what Charlotte could be."

Along with Spartan Motors, Hayes Green Beach has played an essential part in that community development and growth. The hospital not only has a positive impact on the health of the region, but also actively works to have a positive social and economic impact.

HGB has collaborated with several businesses and organizations, including Eaton Federal Savings Bank, Charlotte Public Schools, Peckham and Spartan Motors, to develop Worksite Wellness Programs for employees.

More than 1,000 Spartan Motors employees have collectively participated in health programs such as biometric screening, flu vaccinations, healthy cooking instruction, on-site fitness classes and ergonomic assessments, as well as HGB's annual health fair in March.

"As health care becomes more and more costly, employees are beginning to understand how important it is to be involved in managing your own care," Nierenberger said. "That why it's key for both employees and businesses to have access to quality programs and tools."

HGB's newest initiative, AL!VE, will help expand worksite wellness, as well as general programs for the community at large – creating a positive impact on overall health and well-being. The first phase of the destination health park is expected to be completed by the end of November. The facility is designed to enhance the overall vitality of the community ... everyone is welcome and invited to experience AL!VE.

"It is these kinds of places, assets, that will attract an expanded talent base for employment to businesses in the area," Nierenberger said. "We are very fortunate to have a hospital that provides resources like this. It helps us strengthen our own workforce."

For as small as our community is, having places like AL!VE, the hospital, the Charlotte Aquatic Center and the Charlotte Performing Arts Center provides a competitive advantage over other more urban regions, she said.

AL!VE is being constructed where the old Felpausch grocery store and CVS Pharmacy once stood at 800 W. Lawrence Ave. The hospital revitalized the abandoned buildings.

"They took those empty places and are positioning additional resources, supported by the community, in a way that will benefit the entire region," Nierenberger said.

"Our community's success would not have happened without every facet of the community involved," Rush said. "Spartan Motors is one example of an organization that fulfills that role for Charlotte and mid-Michigan – by always looking at ways it can make communities better."

It is those connections, where local businesses and residents and community resources come together to achieve success. Charlotte has come a long way in the last 25 years thanks to leadership recognizing its potential, and the people willing to contribute time, talent and treasure to make it a great place to live and work.