Search overlay

Search form




        College, Industry

        Alabama Power-Harbert partnership plays vital role in state’s economic development

        November 14, 2022 By Troy Turner

        All News


        Editor’s note: This story is one in a series exploring corporate partnerships with Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business.

        Zeke Smith headshot

        Zeke Smith

        Alabama Power knows a thing or two about energy. It’s why the company and Alabama Power Foundation are among those helping to generate the shared energy being produced at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business.

        “A consistent trait we’ve seen from our Auburn alumni teammates is a strong work ethic that is driven by leadership and compassion,” said Auburn graduate Zeke Smith, executive vice president of Alabama Power external affairs and president of the Alabama Power Foundation. “Auburn instills a true heart of service into its students and graduates, and that value works in lockstep with our mission to elevate Alabama.”

        Auburn graduate and football great Quentin Riggins, senior vice president of Alabama Power governmental and corporate affairs, echoed Smith’s remarks, adding that it’s easy to understand Alabama Power’s interest in supporting the college, something he deems important for the entire state.

        “For Alabama to succeed in the 21st century economy, we must have the right tools and resources to grow robust, resilient and inclusive businesses. We need to educate and build up big thinkers and entrepreneurs to solve some of our most pressing issues. Innovation is key in this space,” Riggins said.

        Quentin Riggins headshot

        Quentin Riggins

        “We’ve seen firsthand how Harbert equips students with the needed expertise and skills to thrive in the workplace,” he said. “By supporting the college, we’re creating the best opportunity to keep some of the brightest students in our great state after they graduate.”

        Building Alabama’s future

        It is this kind of support and belief in Auburn that makes Alabama Power one of the university’s premier corporate partners, said John Morris, Auburn’s senior vice president for advancement.

        “Over the course of Auburn and Alabama Power’s long partnership, the company has created significant impact throughout Auburn’s campus through its philanthropic giving, recruiting and engagement with student organizations,” Morris said. “We are incredibly grateful for Alabama Power’s generous support of our students, faculty and programs.”

        The company also has a long history of promoting a better quality of life throughout the state.

        Auburn grad Jim Heilbron, senior production officer for Alabama Power, said “Alabama Power is committed to elevating Alabama. Supporting our communities and customers through safe, dependable and affordable electric service is at the core of our mission. And our work extends beyond the electric meter.

        “We, too, live in the communities we’re honored to serve, and we are focused on providing innovative solutions to grow our state and enhance the lives of our customers,” Heilbron said. “Attracting and retaining diverse, top-notch talent and businesses to our communities are part of our DNA.”

        AU alumni serving AU

        Giving back comes in a variety of ways, and the commitment to do so is a companywide source of pride for Alabama Power, Smith said.

        “We give back to our fellow Alabamians through the Alabama Power Foundation, Alabama Business Charitable (ABC) Trust Fund, the employee-led Alabama Power Service Organization and retiree-led Energizers service organization,” he said.

        “Supporting Auburn University and the Harbert College of Business is an opportunity to invest in the next generation of Alabama leaders,” Smith said. “Through our partnership, we are creating a formal pathway for us to engage and recruit prospective employees.”

        Beyond supporting scholarships and innovative programs, Smith said Alabama Power and its Auburn alumni-employees remain involved with the university by serving on committees and advisory boards, as well as mentoring students.

        Alabama Power-AU landscape students meeting

        Auburn University landscape architecture students met with Alabama Power Co. and local officials in 2020 to discuss and consider suggestions in promoting development around Thurlow Dam and the Tallapoosa River in Tallassee. The work between the Auburn students and Alabama Power is but one of many examples in the university-corporate sponsorship that exists between the two.