Friday, May 22, 2009

Governor Perdue, Georgia DOT and State Farm Insurance Unveil New Sponsorship Initiative

Governor Sonny Perdue, Georgia transportation officials and the State Farm Insurance Co. today announced a new collaborative sponsorship designed to create a long-term, supplemental funding source for the Department's Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) program.

"We know that incident management is one of the most effective, efficient methods to relieving congestion," Governor Perdue said. "This partnership ensures sustainable funding is available to keep our HERO trucks busy clearing wrecks and keeping traffic moving."

As a result of this sponsorship agreement, Georgia DOT will receive over $5.1 million ($1.7m/yr) in sponsorship fees from State Farm over the next three years to support the HERO program. There is an option to renew the contract for an additional two years, with the Department receiving $1.825 million for each renewal year. All monies received will be used to support the HERO program. In return, State Farm logos will be placed on HERO vehicles, operator uniforms and signs delineating the HERO service area. And the program will henceforth be known as the Georgia DOT HERO Program, sponsored by State Farm Insurance.

"Our HERO motor service patrol is one of Georgia DOT's most acclaimed programs," noted State Transportation Board Member Brandon Beach, who was instrumental in advocating the sponsorship deal. "We are thrilled at the opportunity to create new revenue sources that will sustain funding for this critical program, both now and in the future. We're going to save the taxpayers millions of dollars in operating costs and allow Georgia DOT HEROs to continue doing what they do best... protecting lives and property; assisting motorists; and reducing incident delays."

"State Farm's support of this program underscores our commitment to help make our roads safer. The HERO program shares our good neighbor commitment and is a partner in our mission of helping people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams." said Tim McFadden, Senior Vice President with State Farm.

As the need for additional funding sources increased, Georgia DOT staff and State Transportation Board members began aggressively pursuing strategies to effectively overcome budget challenges. Recognizing that there may be interest in sponsoring various aspects of its operations in return for advertising privileges, Georgia DOT officials researched similar highway response programs in other states and concluded that a sponsorship program would prove beneficial to the Department. The State Transportation Board then directed the Department last December to pursue this type of sponsorship.

The sponsorship opportunity was advertised January 9, 2009, in a Request for Qualifications/Request for Proposal (RFQ/RFP); a Department selection committee, using criteria stipulated in the RFQ/RFP, awarded the sponsorship to State Farm from three respondents.

The resulting contract term is three years with a two-year renewal period. Sponsorship fees will be paid to the Department as follows:

. Year 1 - $1,700,000 payable upon execution of the Agreement

. Year 2 - $1,700,000 payable on or before May 1, 2010

. Year 3 - $1,700,000 payable on or before May 1, 2011

. (Renewal year) 4 - $1,825,000 payable on or before May 1, 2012

. (Renewal year) 5 - $1,825,000 payable on or before May 1, 2013

Sponsorship fees will be used solely to support and supplement the operation of the HERO program, which currently has an annual operating budget of approximately $7.5 million, 80 percent of which is provided by federal funds, 20 percent by state revenues.
Currently, HERO operators patrol 280 miles of freeways in 13 Metro counties, seven days per week. HERO assists increased nearly 100 percent in the last five years and now approach 100,000 annually.

State Farm is a leading advocate for safer roads and provides ongoing support of auto safety initiatives through partnerships with automotive safety organizations as well as financial and operational resources. For more information on State Farm, visit www.StateFarm.com .
The Georgia Department of Transportation is committed to providing a safe, seamless and sustainable transportation system that supports Georgia's economy and is sensitive to both its citizens and its environment. For general information on the Georgia DOT, visit www.dot.ga.gov.
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