Many see little community impact from Pilot investigation

Many see little community impact from Pilot investigation

Posted:
Pilot gives an undisclosed amount of financial contributions to organizations and non-profits all across East Tennessee. Pilot gives an undisclosed amount of financial contributions to organizations and non-profits all across East Tennessee.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - As the federal investigation of Pilot Flying J continues, many are wondering how it could impact the entire community. 

Pilot gives an undisclosed amount of financial contributions to organizations and non-profits all across East Tennessee.

CEO Jimmy Haslam said that support won't change despite the on-going federal investigation.

"You will see not one bit of difference with pilot in this community going forward and we'll continue to be a major force in the community,"  Haslam said in a news conference Friday afternoon.

On Friday night, Knox County Schools Career Technical Education (CTE) sponsored a high school music competition in Market Square.  

One of the sponsors was Pilot Flying J. Despite the company's role in the event, one organizer says she still maintains her faith in the corporation.

"I don't think it's going to affect how I feel about pilot, because they are such community supporters," said event organizer Ramona Dew. 

"We would be hard pressed to find another source for such major support," said Brian Salesky, director of Knoxville Opera.  

Salesky says Pilot supports the arts unlike any other company in the area. He says the company makes a yearly $25,000 contribution to the Knoxville Opera. 

Salesky says no matter the outcome of the investigation, he says the community owes the company the respect for what they've done for East Tennessee.

"There are other equivalent corporations who do a lot of business and who are headquartered in our region of East Tennessee who do not support community activities like pilot does," said Salesky.

The Knoxville area Salvation Army receives around $100,000 in contributions each year from the company.

Major Albert Villafuerte, the Area Commander, says he feels the events have not tarnished the company.

"Regardless of may or may not happen, I think that they will continue to be a great corporate citizen." Said Villafuerte.  

How do Pilot customers feel?

One customer says the investigation wouldn't affect her choice to turn to the pumps of Pilot. 

"It's going to blow over in my opinion, people will forget it about it, move on, some people may not even affect them at all, they may not even care," said Powell resident Amber Lacey.  

David Wells, senior director of Advancement at Emerald Youth says he supports what Haslam said about his company's commitment to the community.

Wells added, "We have a wonderful relationship. I would anticipate we haven't lost any confidence in them."

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