by Joan Tupponce
Grow Interactive in downtown Norfolk considers itself an environmentally friendly firm. That’s why the digital advertising agency began rewarding employees who opt out of their parking spaces and use alternative forms of transportation. Each employee who makes the transition receives $60 a month. “They get the money in their paychecks at the end of the month,” says Careyann Weinberg, the firm’s operations manager.
The reward program started in December. Currently, about one-third of the company’s 22 employees are finding new ways to make their daily commute. “That includes a couple of employees that live in Virginia Beach,” Weinberg says. “They ride their bikes to The Tide light rail and take that in.”
The idea for the program surfaced when Norfolk’s light-rail system opened last summer. “We started thinking about what the city had to offer in the way of alternative modes of transportation,” Weinberg says. “Grow Interactive believes in public transportation and what it means for urban areas. We would like to help promote a great environment for all of our employees.”
Many of the company’s competitors are based in larger cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, which have various forms of public transportation. “We love Norfolk,” Weinberg says. “We wouldn’t want to move our company elsewhere. It’s neat for the city to catch up and be what we know it could be.”
Some of company employees have moved into the downtown area where they can walk or ride bicycles to work. “They are embracing the urban feel,” Weinberg says. “If everyone made those changes, there would be a bigger push to have public transportation, and there would be more options.”
The company recently signed a contract with Hampton Roads Transit for its GoPass 365 program, which gives employees free access to transit services. “It was formerly only offered to large offices,” Weinberg says. “We’ve been encouraging them to offer these services to small businesses.”
Grow Interactive’s green initiative carries over to its company headquarters. All employees have recycling bins at their desks, and electric hand dryers have replaced paper towel dispensers. “We have a dishwasher and dishes so we don’t have disposables,” Weinberg says. “We also have a green roof with plants.”
In addition, the company has several office bikes that employees can use at any time. “We promote a healthy environment and healthy bodies,” Weinberg says.
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