Senior staff writer
Southport is being energized twofold by Renaissance Electronic Services, a leader in national dental industry services.
The Martinsville-based company is moving into a major portion of the former Gerdt Furniture building – a huge piece in the revival of the heart of Southport. The company also made its impact felt Oct. 29 by donating $50,000 to the Southport Parks Department to ensure that its playground equipment meets standards set by the American with Disabilities Act.
Renaissance Electronic Services founder and President Eric Paul and vice president of technology Jon Raimondi presented the symbolic larger-than-life $50,000 check to park board members during their regular meeting at the Southport City Building.
“I was impressed with Mayor (Jesse) Testruth’s vision to make Southport a family-friendly community with amenities that are accessible,” said Raimondi, a 2000 graduate of Southport High School. “RES is proud to partner with Southport to make sure all children are able to use the local playground regardless of physical disabilities.”
Park board members and RES executives anticipate expanding the park adjacent to the city building with new playground equipment specifically designed for ADA access and use.
After a brief presentation by project consultant Dave Keiser, the board unanimously agreed to seek bids for a four-swing set with one swing each for a person in a wheelchair and a physically handicapped individual; a metal stand-alone Expression Swing with a handicap-accessible seat for a youngster up to 6 years old; a unique Reflex wave and ride apparatus; an AeroGlider; and two picnic tables.
The glider has enough room for two wheelchair users and several of their playmates.
“I am pleased that Renaissance has chosen our city for its expansion and appreciate their support for our city,” said Testruth. “We’re also grateful that they are supporting upgrades to our park. That kind of commitment reflects a company culture that values economic success as well as the community where its employees live.”
“I can already see the expressions on the faces of the people who will use this equipment,” City Council President Joe Haley said. “We cannot imagine the impact of this equipment once the public knows we have state-of-the-art equipment.”
RES is the first tenant to be moving into the Gerdt Building after its recent purchase by Randy Faulkner, redeveloper of historic Polk Place in Greenwood.
RES will occupy 36,000 square feet, 54.5 percent of the available space in the 66,000-square foot building. At first, 20 employees, mostly development staff, will be at the new headquarters with technical support employees to follow.
Paul said the expansion will bring 150 new jobs to the area.
Renaissance Electronic Services began in a garage in 2002 and has expanded to six locations, including three data centers. More than 28,000 dentists use its services to submit more than 65 million claims and process more than $200 million in patient payments and 3 million patient statements annually.