NC Tech Paths is a non-profit dedicated to fostering rural inclusion in the digital economy. Based in Wilkes County, NC, NC Tech Paths serves the Northwest North Carolina region by strengthening our tech ecosystem of workforce development, employer partnerships, and entrepreneurial support interventions, allowing our neighbors to live, train, and remain in this beautiful area!


Why Northwest NC?


Five reasons employers should target Northwest NC when building their tech workforce of the future:

  1. World-Class Broadband: The region boasts gig-capable fiberoptic internet access to almost 90% of residences, meaning it has the strongest internet in North Carolina
  2. Versatile Talent: A network of training and education providers offers a diverse portfolio of tech specializations to match employer needs
  3. Labor Shed: The commutable radius around NC Tech Paths includes over 550,000 residents, with VA and TN border counties adding another 200,000 residents
  4. Quality of Life: In the post-pandemic world, top talent may be reluctant to relocate or slog through the urban commute – allowing employees to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains gives employers a leg up in the talent war
  5. Social Impact: Our state and nation have been plagued by a rural-urban divide – employers have an opportunity to bridge that divide by growing their rural tech workforce


Learn more about NC Tech Paths by visiting their website, watching this short video, or reading about them in Business North Carolina magazine.

Published: Friday, 28 January 2022 10:49

North Wilkesboro, N.C. — Seven local small businesses were announced as receiving Entrepreneurial Grants from the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation at the EDC’s board meeting on Friday, December 10, 2021. This is the eighth year of the Entrepreneurial Grant Program competition awarded by the EDC, but the first time the program has been held twice in one year thanks to local sponsors. Ten local businesses of various types applied for this year’s program, including agriculture, occupational therapy, food services, as well as graphic design and a full-service salon.

Applicants were asked to submit a Video Pitch in addition to their business plans and financial summaries to give the judges insight into their proposed use of funds. Submissions were judged based on potential funding impact to the business, and the sustainability of each respective recipient. Grant amounts totaling $13,000 were distributed between the seven winners.

Created by Coffee Designs, a retail and graphic design business in Wilkesboro, received $2,000 toward the purchase of a new laptop that will allow utilizing state of the art software. This business is owned by Danielle Addington, a graduate of Appalachian State University. Danielle offers design services to clients looking to market their businesses, as well as handmade retail items such as screen-printed shirts and custom tumblers. Visit her website, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Crosswoods Lumber is a mobile sawmill business created by Michael Hodges of North Wilkesboro. Michael received $3,000 toward the purchase of the steel he will need to finish building his sawmill. This mobilized service will allow clients to have smaller amounts of lumber cut at their property instead of having to travel to a larger sawmill. Hodges expressed the need for this since larger operations usually require large amounts of wood before they will process it. He hopes that this business will allow clients to utilize trees that may have sentimental value while also saving money. Contact Michael by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. him, or via phone at (336) 902-5981.

Redding Homestead Vineyard, formerly Windy Gap Vineyard on Pardue Road in Ronda, was purchased by Mitchell Welborn and his wife Kelsey Redding Welborn. The 5-acre vineyard currently operates to supply grapes for wineries in the Yadkin Valley region. Currently, they have several varietals of grapes that are actively producing; however, they received $2,500 toward the purchase of 500 Chardonelle vines to replace the current 20-year-old Chambourcin ones that are underproducing. The Welborns plan to expand the vineyard to also include bee colonies and possibly fruit trees in the future. Contact Redding Homestead by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Steps 2 Grow LLC, owned by Austen Lincoln, nurtures natural child development, and promotes developmental wellness through direct occupational therapy evaluation and intervention with children, consultation with parents, and online trainings. This in-home occupational therapy (OT) supports children at risk for delays or those with conditions impacting development. Austen’s mission is to help parents identify their child’s strengths and areas of challenge, help them navigate the “messy and magical” seasons of a child’s motor development. Steps 2 Grow received $1,500 for the purchase of new materials needed to help expand her current services. If you are interested in contacting Steps 2 Grow, visit .

The Meat Sweats is a Veteran-Owned meat processing business started by Jason and Chantelle Sargood. The Meat Sweats will be processing wild game and domestic livestock but will also offer products for sale in their retail store located at 1016 West D Street in North Wilkesboro. Jason and Chantelle received $2,000 to purchase a cooler for their retail meat selection. Find them on Facebook to contact, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Top Knot Salon, located at 102 Wilkesboro Avenue in North Wilkesboro, is proudly owned by Erica Scearce. Erica has worked in the beauty industry for 13 years and was able to purchase the salon from its previous owner in the summer of 2021. Top Knot received $1,000 to purchase new styling chairs, which will add an opening for an additional stylist. Scearce plans to continue to expand the business by eventually hiring a massage therapist and esthetician so that all their current and future clients’ needs are met. Find Top Knot Salon on Facebook, call (336) 667-9550 to schedule an appointment, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Erica for more information.

Vernon’s Cake Carousel’s has been providing delicious baked goods and custom cakes for clients since 2020. Vernon’s, located at 1260 College Avenue Suite 7 in Wilkesboro, has continued to expand over the past year. Owner Vernon Tilley received $2,000 to purchase a new cooler for his bakery that will increase storage space for orders and allow his employees to maximize their efforts. Stop in and taste a number of delectable treats, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for custom ordering information.

Robin Hamby, Vice President of Wilkes EDC had led this grant program for the past eight years. “We have always wanted to be able to hold the Entrepreneurial Grant twice a year, so it was great to see that come to fruition this year.” Hamby thanked all the program sponsors and credited these donations for the success of the program. “Our sponsors make this program possible. We were very encouraged by those businesses willing to fund a twice per year program; it really helps so many local businesses!” She goes on to talk about grant applicants, “Each cycle we are so impressed at the applications we receive. It really reflects the impressive quality of entrepreneurs in Wilkes County. Self-sufficiency and innovation have been part of this county for generations, so it is an honor to witness that spirit continue.”

President of Wilkes EDC, LeeAnn Nixon, encourages others to consider contributing to the Grant Program. “The future of this program relies on sponsorships to encourage entrepreneurship. We hope to continue holding it twice per year in the Spring and Fall.” The Wilkes EDC has already received funding commitments for the Spring 2022 Entrepreneurial Grant Program thanks to several donors. Sponsorships are available at various levels with private and in-kind donations also accepted. All our program sponsors receive free promotional marketing on the Grant Webpage, an announcement in the EDC’s Monthly Activity Report, and are honored guests at our Annual Meeting. Each level above Bronze gives the donor an opportunity to be recognized even further. If you are interested in supporting entrepreneurship and economic development in Wilkes County, please contact our office or visit our website for more information.

This season’s judges were Crystal Keener, Town of North Wilkesboro; Thomas Salley, Wilkesboro TDA; and David Henson, Small Business Technology Development Center. Special thanks to Laurie Brintle-Jarvis of the Wilkes Community College Small Business Center for helping applicants with their Business Plans and Financial Summaries.



The Wilkes Economic Development Corporation, a 501 c3 public-private partnership, aims to facilitate the creation of new jobs and capital investment in Wilkes County through the retention and expansion of existing businesses and the recruitment of new businesses. The EDC is located at 213 Ninth Street in historic downtown North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. For more information about Wilkes EDC visit or contact LeeAnn Nixon at 336-838-1501 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published: Friday, 10 December 2021 09:13


WilCo Shops LOCAL: November Small Business Spotlight Interview 

This month's video is of Nico von Cosmos of Stardust Cellars in Wilkesboro. Nico talks with Marketing & Content Manager Caroline about Mead, our Grant Program and Entrepreneurship in Wilkes! 

Each month we will interview a different business in our area. They will answer a few questions and give insight into their work or products. There are so many talented entrepreneurs and driven business owners in our county!

Published: Friday, 12 November 2021 11:31



The Block, a family fun center is opening soon in North Wilkesboro offering a trampoline park, ninja warrior course, roller skating rink, birthday party rooms concession area, and later a glow-in-the-dark putt-putt course. Located at 101 Sixth Street, formerly known as Town Square, The Block is owned by Mick and Aynsley Zulpo who hope to appeal to both local families and those from surrounding areas by fulfilling an important need amenity that improves quality of life. 


The Block was chosen as the name through an online contest in which potential names were submitted. Zulpo said the EDC staff assisted with the contest. Mick Zulpo spoke at the EDC's Annual Meeting on August 20th, and said over 300 potential names were submitted, along with numerous comments from people in Wilkes and adjoining counties about the need for the family entertainment center. Zulpo said his goal is for other businesses in Wilkes to benefit from crowds he hopes The Block will draw. The time frame for opening the facility hasn’t been firmly set. Follow The Block on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest news and announcements for the business. 

Published: Tuesday, 07 September 2021 17:06

Screenshot 2021 09 07 170505


In August 2020, Rossman Apiaries expanded into a building that provides larger warehouse space allowing them to increase their inventory. Rossman relocated from 318 Ninth Street to 102 Chestnut Street, Suite 103 in North Wilkesboro (near Smoot Park). Owner Candy Treadway's store offers an array of beekeeing supplies and provides knowledge that not only serves our local bee enthusiats, but clients who travel regularly from surrounding areas. Visit Rossman Apiaries at their new location, or view their website for more information. 

Published: Tuesday, 07 September 2021 16:59