December 20, 2018 | by Bruce Levy

Our company’s vision is to go beyond building energy infrastructure to enhancing the surrounding communities where we work. From day one, we engage residents and other local stakeholders on project impact and we remain within the community to collaborate on ongoing improvements that benefit daily lives now and foster future success. We’ve been the most active in the surrounding parishes of our 36-megawatt wind energy project in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. For inspiration on giving back this holiday season and year-round, we’re proud to share some tips and stories from our work in Jamaica.

1. Create a collaborative dialogue to identify challenges and invest in simple solutions

For all of our projects, we facilitate an ongoing open dialogue with stakeholders to learn about the challenges affecting the community and identify opportunities to offer meaningful support. Residents near a local maternity clinic expressed concern for the pregnant women and their children walking alongside a busy road to and from the clinic. Alarmed by the clear safety issue this posed, BMR was determined to change it. By making simple upgrades to public roadswidening the road and adding a shoulder for pedestrianswe found a cost-effective way to improve safety in the community.

Similarly, through consistent conversation and collaboration with nine area schools, we have partnered to enhance the health and learning environment for local youth. For example, one nearby elementary school did not have closable windows, and the fixed vents often made classrooms cold and wet. This small red flag presented an opportunity for our team to offer value. We spent a few days implementing fixes like repairing gates; installing new windows, doors and grills to protect the school’s property; and building a swing set for the children to play on. Along with rehabilitating aging educational infrastructure, we have also donated school supplies and office equipment through our ongoing school partnerships. Our team hopes to be a listening ear and make a lasting impact in the community with these upgrades.

2. Engage with local students—they’re the future of the community

While making small improvements and contributing donations, our staff continued conversations with schools about activities and initiatives, unlocking opportunities to engage further with local youth. We support various extracurricular programs, such as the Hampton School music program, the Blueprint Steel Band concerts and the Charlie Fuller Field Event Meeta qualifying national track meet in conjunction with Manchester High School and Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association.

Additionally, we find ways to support students interested in science and renewable energy. We lead tours of the wind farm during the government-run Schools Energy Program Competition and conduct presentations for multiple Career Days at local schools. We also involve older students in the region’s only avian monitoring program which we created to audit and mitigate avian mortality surrounding the wind farm, providing the students with environmental education and real field experience.

3. Build job opportunities by fostering professional development

For all of our projects, we make it a priority to support the economy by employing the local workforce for construction and maintenance. In all of our plants, we contract with local contractors and hire workers from surrounding areas to provide as much of the labor and materials needed as possible. In Jamaica, local employees made up over 90% of the labor manhours used during construction. During the project’s first full year of operation, we employed six full-time, on-site employees to manage daily operations and maintain the facility.

Additionally, we support professional development opportunities. We sponsor motivational speaker sessions at the Manning Boys Facility and fund the Holmwood’s Women on a Mission Program event series, hosted in collaboration with Holmwood Technical High School. The event delivers professional presentations, motivational speakers, life coaches, networking opportunities and interview workshops for local women ages 15 to 20. BMR’s Ava Tomlin and other staff shared their own professional experiences at these events.

Each summer, BMR employs several engineering interns to assist the plant staff in daily tasks, supplying them with a source of income and hands-on training not available in the classroom.

Additionally, we sponsored Jamaica’s Women in Energy Conference in collaboration with the local utility, Jamaica Public Service Company. The conference brings women together across Jamaica’s energy workforce to explore the future of energy. Members of our staff also spoke at the event to discuss the resilience of women in energy.

4. Be a good neighbor and find different touchpoints to show you care

Lastly, finding community volunteer opportunities is a great way to show support to new long-term neighbors. We celebrated “National Heroes’ Day” in Jamaica by providing care packages and cooking meals for veterans at The Curphey retirement home to honor Jamaica’s military. During the holiday season, our team delivered gifts and played games with children at the Black River Hospital, Mandeville Regional Hospital and the Salvation Army’s Hanbury Home. We also provided snacks and gifts to local farmers and donated funds to local organizations, including the Potsdam Community Council, Malvern Citizens Association and the Bellevue Citizens Association.

By offering our services, in addition to our projects, to surrounding local communities, we’re showing our commitment to making a positive impact for the long term. This holiday season, we encourage our peers to notice the challenges your communities face, find opportunities to engage with local youth, continue prioritizing the local economy and share your services to bring positive change to the communities where you work, all year long.

Read more about our Jamaica Wind project and community efforts here.


Originally published on: LinkedIn