Foundation Powered, in Part, by Greenville Utilities

Rob Goldberg | March 31st, 2024

Tony Cannon portrait

WINTERVILLE—Greenville Utilities Commission (GUC) has been an integral part of Greenville and Pitt County since 1905, but its support for the community extends well beyond providing electric water, sewer and natural gas services.

One cause that is important to GUC is education, and the students of Pitt Community College can be thankful for that. GUC has been a reliable supporter of the PCC Foundation over the years, because, as GUC General Manager/Chief Executive Officer Tony Cannon explains, the company supports the growth of its employees, as well as the economic development of the community.

Cannon, who has overseen GUC operations since 2012 and has more than 35 years of experience working in public utilities, recently answered some questions for the PCC Foundation. Along with discussing the importance of Pitt and education, in general, he explained why he feels it is important for GUC to support them in the interview that follows:

Q: Why is it important for GUC to support the PCC and its students?

A: There are many reasons why GUC supports Pitt Community College, starting with the fact that PCC offers solid education and career training at an affordable cost.

I also think it’s important to remember that not everybody needs or wants a four-year or graduate degree, and yet there are skills that are no longer taught in primary and secondary schools that students need in order to build a career of their choosing. PCC is an excellent choice with fantastic programs and an outstanding reputation across the state.

From a GUC perspective, we promote and encourage the continued growth of our employees, and many of them rely on the education that PCC provides before and during their employment with us.

We support the entire education system here in Pitt County (including PCC) because we rely on local education partnerships to create a population that can meet the needs not only of GUC, but the business community as a whole. PCC does an excellent job working with local industries to help fill skills gaps that exist, so employers don’t need to look outside of our community.

That includes businesses and industries looking to locate here. Without our solid educational support system, it would be a lot more difficult to keep existing employers (and recruit new employers) to this area.

Q: In your words, what is the value of higher education?

A: If you think about higher education in a different way, it’s not just getting a degree – it’s acquiring knowledge and skill sets that can help you build a successful career. That can be certifications, 2-year degrees, 4-year degrees, and skills-based training to learn a trade. With the world evolving and technology advancing at a fast pace, it’s important to have the education you need to be able to keep up and compete. Higher education helps you do that.

It’s also important to remember that not every job needs a 4-year degree – there are many positions within our organization that require certain skill certifications or an Associate’s Degree. Those are gained through higher education as well.

Q: What is the value of Pitt Community College to Pitt County and the region?

A: This goes back to why it’s important for GUC to support PCC.

I was drawn to Pitt County from South Carolina almost 20 years ago because I saw the potential for this area’s economic development, and PCC plays a big role in that. The leaders at PCC work together with industries and economic development groups to ensure that we have a workforce trained and prepared to meet the needs of employers in our area.

When industries research locating here, they want to know about our skilled workforce. Having a resource like PCC tailor its training to the specific needs of industries is invaluable – not in bringing new employers to town, but also to help current businesses stay here and grow.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: As a public utility provider, one of the most critical parts of GUC’s mission is to reinvest in infrastructure that allows for economic development and job growth – and a big part of that includes building solid partnerships with local institutions like Pitt Community College whose missions align with ours.

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