If Robin Hood were alive today, he would probably be pleased with the number of manufacturing and technological industries in Utah County that have given some of their riches back to the community.
In the past year, large profits at Geneva Steel, Word Perfect Corp. and Novell Inc. have made it possible for them to not only hire more employees and build more offices, but also make significant contributions to the community.Geneva Steel has made an annual contribution of about $300,000. Company officials said most of that money is divided among education, civic and cultural programs.
"I really believe a company has a duty to be part of the community," said Geneva President Joe Cannon. "It makes good business sense. It touches the lives of thousands of people."
Wayne Nelson, vice president and chief financial officer for Geneva Steel, agreed. "Our feelings are truly deep and strong about our relationship with the community. We want to make Utah a better place economically and culturally. We want to build a better future."
In the past few months, Geneva has adopted an Orem elementary school and made a $35,000 contribution to the school. The company has also contributed $20,000 to the Boy Scouts of America programs in the county, donated $10,000 to the Brigham Young University Law School, $20,000 to the Utah Symphony and $5,000 to the Folkfest in Springville.
Contributions have also gone to American Fork's Pageant of the Arts, the Utah Arts Festival, Opera West, and Utah Valley Symphony as well as the Utah Opera, Sundance Institute and the Ralph Woodward Chorale Messiah production.
A big cultural move for the company was bringing the Utah Symphony to Utah County for a performance. Geneva employees received free tickets to the event.
But the most significant contribution has gone to Geneva Elementary School, officials say. The contribution is significant because it is not just monetary. It includes the actual adoption of the school.
"This is the thing we are really proud of," Cannon said. "We really believe that Utah will be a greater state because of the children. They will be a well-qualified labor force and if they are treated right, they will attract businesses here like a magnet."
Geneva Steel has made a commitment to work with students, educators and parents in the school through involvement in the education process. Geneva plans to send workers to the school to speak and volunteer for special projects.
Geneva also has an internship program with Utah Valley Community College and sponsors programs on public television and radio.
The company's public health contributions go to Primary Children's Medical Center, the National Kidney Foundation and the Lung Association.
"We don't contribute to everything, but we like to give to worthy things," Nelson said. "We do not have an unlimited budget."
And while some people may see the company contributions as a tax write-off, Nelson said the annual contribution isn't enough to figure in the annual budget.
"Even if it were not tax-deductible, we would make the same contribution," he said.
Word Perfect and Novell have made their mark with community contributions as well.
Claire Averett, personnel manager at Word Perfect, said the company plans to contribute a significant amount to United Way this year.
"We contribute to organizations that help the poor and needy," she said. "If we identify a need that fits in with our goals, we contribute."
At Novell, Community Service Manager Susan Richards said the company also makes a large contribution to United Way, but their main contribution to the community comes through the donation of company products to education and non-profit organizations.
She said the company has donated about $2 million in software and hardware to organizations in the state. Products have also been donated out-of-state.
The Humane Society, a hunger project in New York, a women's crisis center and a prison education program are just a few of the organizations that have received help from Novell.
"We have contributed a very significant amount, but we want to contribute more," she said.
Geneva's Nelson said contributing is one way for a company to actually join in partnership with Utah to build a better future. "I honestly think other companies ought to think about what they can contribute. We issue an invitation to all to do that."