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Albemarle Corp. is one of the largest employers in Columbia County, with about 375 employees at two plants in Magnolia and another 200 or more contractors who work on-site. Its community outreach benefits from the fact that it is also a publicly traded corporation with nearly 6,000 employees in dozens of countries.
The Albemarle Foundation, created in 2007, solicits charitable donations from employees and matches those gifts. Each local worksite has a council that recommends local philanthropic projects, and grant requests are considered every month, according to Kimberly Jones, who works in the lease office and serves as director of the Albemarle Foundation for the Magnolia plants.
Last year, Jones said, the foundation gave more than $250,000 to the Magnolia community. In addition to the foundation grants, the Albemarle plants in Magnolia gave away about $70,000 to local causes and projects in 2019, she said.
Albemarle’s philanthropy takes many forms. The corporation bought the naming rights to the stage in a new “pocket park” on the town square in Magnolia, and it sponsors musical programs at the Magnolia Arts Center. The foundation has worked closely with Southern Arkansas University, giving $100,000 over four years to help the engineering program earn accreditation last year from the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology. SAU’s Muleriders Kids College, a day camp, also receives Albemarle support.
In addition to money grants from employees and the corporation, Albemarle encourages volunteerism, Jones said. “We might work at the concession stand for the basketball tournament that came to Magnolia. We do all sorts of things on the weekends, like Earth Day, Blossom Festival. Of course, lots of our employees are on different boards, whether it’s volunteer fire departments or various 501(c)(3) [nonprofits] in the community. Additionally, we have emergency responder teams on site, and they work very closely with Columbia County on emergency response planning.”
Community outreach teams from Albemarle present a youth program called “Play It Safe” to teach outdoor safety, internet safety, fire response and even prom and graduation night safety reminders.