Wells Fargo celebrated the presentation of $70,000 in grants to area nonprofits by bringing its iconic stagecoach to town.
The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, Athens Land Trust and Common Wealth Athens all benefited from Wells Fargo’s annual distribution of funds.
“At Wells Fargo, we like to partner with our local communities,” said Ryan Hammock, the business banking manager at Wells Fargo in Athens. “All three of these groups do tremendous work in our community, and by giving back, we help make our community stronger.”
The SBDC received the lion’s share of the grant money with $50,000. The money will continue to fund a statewide training program for small business owners.
“Wells Fargo is a strong name in banking, and nationally, they are a really strong small business lender,” said SBDC State Director Allan Adam. “Having their credibility associated with us is important for business owners to see us as a valuable place to come learn.”
The more than decade long relationship between Wells Fargo and SBDC allows the organization to provide services to small business owners that would normally be unaffordable, Adams added.
The Athens Land Trust and Common Wealth Athens also benefited from $10,000 each in funding.
ALT, whose mission is to conserve, empower and sustain communities through responsible and visionary land use, will use the money to fund two programs in Athens.
“This money will allow us to fund our Housing Counseling Program and our Credit Counseling Program that helps small business get off the ground and have access to financing,” said ALT Executive Director Heather Benham.
Common Wealth Athens also benefits from the funds, and will use them to continue its mission of providing financial empowerment to Athens’ low-wage workers through financial education and specially designed financial products.
The check presentation was celebrated by an appearance one of Wells Fargo’s iconic stagecoaches.
The 2,500 pound stagecoach and team of horses are based out of Milledgeville, Georgia, and are led by driver David Helmuth.
“We do this today because we want to, not because we have to,” Helmuth said. “I think the greatest joy that I get is what this does for the people who see it. That’s the fun part, and it’s something we can give back to the community.”
In addition to showcasing the stagecoach, modeled after the ones Wells Fargo used to transport people and goods in a time before interstates and railroads, those present could also go for a ride in the wagon.
“I’m an old western movie fan, and I’ve always liked stagecoaches,” said John Cone, who is building his own stagecoach and came to get a closer look at a real one. “There are a lot of details I couldn’t see from the pictures, and when I found out I could ride in it, that was the cherry on top.”