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Car dealer pays for college for employees, their families

A no-cost, no-debt college degree is now being offered to employees and family members at Desert 215 Superstore Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in the southwest valley and Sahara Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram at 5050 W. Sahara Ave.

Part of a partnership between the dealership and Strayer University, the program offers employees and family members the opportunity to take courses or pursue degrees at no cost. The plan includes tuition, books and technology fees. The agreement is the only one of its kind in the state of Nevada — and it’s free to all employees of the two dealerships and members of their family.

The announcement by dealerships owner John Grant was hailed by automobile executives along with Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, a native Las Vegan who said the timing was excellent for the program entitled Degrees@Work.

“We are doing this so that we can hire and better retail our great employees,” said Grant, whose two stores are being utilized to pilot the offering.

“The cost of pursuing a college degree nowadays is mind-boggling,” Hutchison said. “We are addressing the issue right now in the Nevada Legislature, and I’m here to applaud what John is doing.”

Hutchison, the father of six children, said the program is long overdue.

“So many parents simply cannot afford to send their children to college,” he said. “In addition, many college students are facing huge challenges related to paying off student loans. I love what John is doing.”

Strayer University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in Philadelphia, and every business degree program and concentration in Strayer’s College of Business, including the Executive MBA, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

“We are proud to offer this,” said Grant, whose newest dealership opened off the 215 Beltway between Buffalo and Durango drives last year. “It’s a great new benefit for our employees. Education is vitally important nowadays, and there is nothing better than advancement through education.”

Grant said he has been working to secure the program for his employees for the past year.

“I’m really excited about this,” said Grant. “I want our employees and their family members to take advantage of the opportunity. It’s absolutely free to all employees and their families.”

Jim Cecere, senior vice president of corporate development at Strayer Education Inc., said the event was a great way to kick off the benefit for employees of Desert 215 Superstore along with its sister store at 5050 W. Sahara Ave.

“The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Strayer University partnership offers dealerships a simple program to provide a no-cost, no-debt education to their employees and immediate family members,” he said. “We are very proud to partner with John Grant here in Las Vegas and bring this great program to the employees of his dealerships.”

Oakland, California, native Ryan Gould is a finance manager at Desert 215 Superstore Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. He also attended the University of California, Santa Barbara for more than three years.

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for someone with the dealership to have their education completely paid for,” Gould said. “This separates us from other organizations locally considering that we’re the only dealership in Nevada to offer the program to its employees.”

Larry Carter, a longtime Las Vegan and the former owner of Desert GMC, echoed the praises.

“I think it’s great,” said Carter, who was in the car business for more than 40 years. “When it comes to hiring employees, it’s going to be a great benefit for new hires and the employer.”

Also happy with the announcement was John Fox, the director of training worldwide for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

“This is a very exciting day,” he said. “It’s very good when your employer invests in your future. I can’t remember ever seeing anything like this in the past.”

Desert 215 Superstore opened last March with 15 acres. Further information can be found by calling 702-963-8000 or by visiting www.desert215.com.

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