JLR donates to PIE

From the left, John Florida, Jaguar Land Rover manager of global test facilities & planning; Toni Korpi, PIE president and school board member; Terry Mason, PIE staff liaison; Wendy Reiners, PIE vice president; Kristie LaVigne, PIE staff liaison; and Craig Hopkins, JLR North American facilities coordinator, visit last week about PIE and its efforts.

As test teams with Jaguar Land Rover spend time in Borderland, they’ve come to wonder how they can give back to a community that helped them settle into a place they feel comfortable testing their vehicles.

An idea that brought $850 to the Partners In Education group at the International Falls School District came as a surprise last week to John Florida, Jaguar Land Rover, manager of global test facilities & planning.

Paul Nevanen, director of the Koochiching Economic Development Authority, which manages the cold weather testing facility located near the Falls International Airport, said when JLR test teams come to test in the U.S. they buy a JLR polo shirt. A portion of the funds are set aside for local charities in Phoenix, Denver, and International Falls, where JLR has testing facilities.

When Florida was in Borderland last year, he raised the question about giving back to the community and asked Craig Hopkins, JLR North American facilities coordinator, and Ron Sutherland, JLR facilities support, to explore some options.

“We provided Craig with several local options and he liked the PIE option and the ability to impact students,” Nevanen told The Journal. “John didn’t know they had chosen a charity until we showed up at the school and had a chance to talk with the PIE representatives about how the group got started and the types of projects they get involved with.”

Nevanen said Florida feels it’s important to give back to the communities where they test.

PIE is a volunteer operated organization established in 2012 to improve the environment and educational opportunities for students and staff in the International Falls school district.

Jaguar Land Rover’s relationship with the community began in 2010 when the United Kingdom-based company contacted Nevanen about the testing facilities and opportunities the community could offer.

As a result, a second cold box was dedicated in 2012 and funded by International Falls and Koochiching County each committing $250,000 toward the $644,000 price tag. That money is being repaid by JLR at 2-percent interest.

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