Priority Toyota Chesapeake earns national Toyota award for inmate technician program

Local News

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Priority Toyota Chesapeake was recently honored by Toyota dealerships across the country for its inmate technician training program.

The “Best in Town” award is given to just one out of the more than 1,200 Toyota dealerships nationwide.

“To be the only Toyota dealership in the nation selected to receive this award is truly a great honor,” said Priority Automotive Owner and President Dennis Ellmer in a press release.

The Priority Inmate Technician Training Program started in 2018 in partnership with Tidewater Community College and the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office in an effort to reduce recidivism rates, and has already seen 14 inmates go on to work for Priority.

Inmates train for 2 years, attending class at TCC twice a week and working at Priority’s training center in Chesapeake three days a week, and are guaranteed a job at Priority following graduation.

“Our company is proud of these men, and proud of this program’s ability to help them make a difference in their lives,” Elmer said. “I want to emphasize that this was a total team effort by many people including Governor Ralph Northam, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander, Sheriff Joe Baron and the incredible staff at Tidewater Community College. This was not just a Priority Toyota program but a community wide effort.”

The program’s first class of 14 inmates just graduated back in May.

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