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:
- 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
- Versatile Talent: A network of training and education providers offers a diverse portfolio of tech specializations to match employer needs
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
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 www.steps2grow.com .
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.
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!
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.
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.