Wilkes EDC offers online marketing grant to small businesses


North Wilkesboro, NC- The Wilkes Economic Development Corporation announced the new Wilkes Business Assistance Marketing Program on Monday to assist small businesses establish an online presence. This grant program is in response to small businesses impacted during the COVID-19 crisis and the mandated closures to allow for social distancing. It is being offered to encourage businesses to continue to operate with an online presence and broaden their client base.

According to program guidelines, this funding is primarily intended to assist retail and service establishments, including businesses that serve food, with less than 15 employees. This incentive is available on a first come, first served basis, until funding is fully committed.

“During the COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, many have depended on their online presence to maintain sales and service operations. Studies have shown that 70-80 percent of people will research a company on the web before making a purchase decision, usually by visiting its website. Having even a basic website can establish credibility for a business. For that reason, we created this marketing grant to assist small businesses to have the means to establish and market themselves online,” said LeeAnn Nixon, president of the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation.

“Currently, Wilkes EDC has funding to assist 10 to 12 businesses,” added Nixon. “We welcome the opportunity for private donors to contribute to this grant in order that we can assist more businesses.”

Eligible businesses that do not have a website or a strong social media presence will be assigned to a designer who will create a simple website and a Facebook Business page. The grant will cover the cost of design, a domain name, three months of online presence and basic training for business owners to maintain their new site. The award is up to $500 per recipient to cover the agreed cost with the pre-approved designer.

Business owners can locate the eligibility requirements, an application and application instructions on the Wilkes EDC website at www.WilkesEDC.com. For more information about LEAP or to help fund the program, contact LeeAnn Nixon at 336-838-1501 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



1) Recipient businesses must have at least one but no more than 15 employees. A list of employees, hours worked, and total monthly payroll since January 2020 must be provided.

2) Recipient businesses must be an existing locally owned business and located in Wilkes County that has been in operation for more than 90 days prior to February 2020.

3) Recipient businesses must have a valid business address and be in good tax standing with local governmental entities.

4) Recipient businesses must provide three months of bank statements.

5) No financial institutions, chain establishments or non-profits are eligible.

*All content submitted will be kept confidential and only reviewed by individuals on the economic development leadership team.


ABOUT: 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






Published: Monday, 04 May 2020 09:01

Published by Area Development - October 3, 2019

Dan Foster, Executive Managing Director at Newmark Knight Frank and Chris Volney, Senior Director, CBRE Labor Analytics, spoke with Area Development about the less tangible site selection factors, such as local culture and quality of place, at our Miami Consultants Forum.

3 Cs Video

What is the “soul” of your company? Many corporations and corporate executives have a firm understanding of what is at the heart of their company: culture. Mission and vision statements, codes and ethics, employees and employee handbooks all serve as windows into the “soul” or internal culture of a company. And the impact of culture on a company cannot be understated—it is vital. Without culture, business organization won’t be sustainable.But what about the soul of your company’s surrounding community? Is it important to your business and its success? For many executives, the culture of their current or prospective communities can be much more difficult to discern than that of their own organizations. But, in site selection, community culture is where the magic happens.

Many companies are no longer just looking for communities that match their business needs—they are looking for places that match, convey and personify their company’s culture. Look no further than VF Corporation planting its sustainable roots in the green-oriented city of Denver, or tech startups that flock to sunny and prosperous Silicon Valley in pursuit of talent and to keep their eye on the competition.

That’s where successful EDOs come into play. No matter what your industry or type of company, honing in on the strategic integration and alignment between corporation, culture and community is vital to ensuring a successful site selection, and in turn, a successful organization.

Just as mission and value statements serve as windows into the soul of a company, an EDO should provide a crystal-clear window into the soul of their community. And, more important, an EDO should creatively show your company’s reflection in the window.

What your EDOs can do
While you might have a firm grasp on your company and every aspect of its culture, it is impossible to have your finger on the pulse on every prospective community in the nation, or even on what you believe to be your wish list. Knowledgeable and helpful EDOs can play a critical role in connecting your company and its culture with the right community.

How does this translate into real-world site selection? Well, if your company has a passion for healthy living and sustainability, a successful EDO will guide you through site visits to LEED certified buildings rich with greenery and wellness-focused amenities, such as roof gardens and health centers. They may also take you to prospective sites that are surrounded by bike paths that allow health-conscious employees to easily get to and from work.

What if sustainability isn’t your most important goal? Maybe proximity to public transport, urban centers, talent and competition is what your company desires. Whatever is at the forefront of your organizational culture, a savvy EDO will show you what their community brings to the table and how it can uniquely suit your needs—while also being clear, transparent and honest about its limitations.

When an EDO immerses your decision makers in the local culture with early morning jogs on the nearby hiking path and sit-down lunches at local restaurants, you can get a better idea of the community’s culture. Creative and thoughtful approaches to showing you how your employees will engage with the community if you locate there demonstrate that the EDO is excited about your company’s potential move.

Moving forward
While your company and its culture are vital to its success, bringing in the third “C” of community can unlock unharnessed potential of your site selection. So long as you team up with an EDO that paints a vivid and honest picture of how their community aligns with your company’s soul, your company, culture and community will thrive together.


Published: Tuesday, 08 October 2019 14:40

Published by Area Development, October 3, 2019

Labor availability is generally the number-one concern of growing companies that need to locate a facility in a new location. Therefore, a company’s site selection team needs to determine which regional markets can satisfy that need. A regional market analysis will identify growing markets that provide the best chance to connect with customers and suppliers and gain the workers needed for success. Data points include population growth, GDP growth, unemployment levels, income growth, and poverty reduction, just to name a few. 

However, beyond the data points, a company seeking a new location must also ascertain if a prospective community aligns with their organization’s culture. For example, if a company’s mission statement stresses wellness and sustainability, then communities that have a similar focus should be on its radar. Honing in on the strategic integration and alignment between corporation, culture, and community is vital to ensuring a successful site selection.

Of course, project timelines must still be met. The difference between being able to break ground in six months versus 18 months could be the difference between a project’s success or its failure. Sites that are equipped with roads, water and sewage connections, and permitting in place can prove advantageous.

That’s why states that are investing in infrastructure upgrades are getting noticed. For example, to keep up with the needs of business and industry, Louisiana has undertaken several major infrastructure projects at its airports and ports. And Georgia is a top-ranked state for its distribution and supply chain hubs. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world, with total cargo warehouse space of 1.3 million square feet, and the Port of Savannah, the largest single container terminal in North America and the second-busiest in the U.S.

Published: Tuesday, 08 October 2019 14:25

North Wilkesboro, N.C. — The success of a low-cost farm equipment rental program in Wilkes County and a growing need for additional equipment has led the Golden LEAF Foundation to award a $63,000 grant to the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation. The Wilkes EDC will manage the funds with the N.C. Cooperative Extension and the Wilkes Cattlemen’s Association which will use the grant to purchase four pieces of new equipment: a Titan West portable corral, a tandem axle fertilizer and lime spreader, a 500-gallon liquid applicator and an Arrow Cattle handling system.

“Golden LEAF is pleased to support this collaborative effort to increase access to equipment for local farmers,” said Ted Lord, Acting President of Golden LEAF. “This grant responds to a clearly identified demand of the local farming community and expands a program that has demonstrated its ability to maintain its existing equipment using rental fees.  We look forward to continued outstanding results from this program.”

In addition to the Golden LEAF grant, the Wilkes EDC plans to contribute $15,000 and the WCA plans to contribute $5,000 to purchase a vehicle to transport the equipment to farmers utilizing the program.

“This low-cost rental program is a beacon of how collaborations can have a long-term economic impact on a regional industry,” said LeeAnn Nixon, president of the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation. “The program began in 2014. Funds from the Golden LEAF Foundation allowed for the purchase of four pieces of farm equipment at a cost of $27,500. Additionally, in 2017 Wilkes EDC contributed $16,175 for two more pieces of equipment to the program. Low-cost rental fees cover maintenance of the equipment. Since the program’s inception, 65 producers were assisted 154 times, processing over 7,100 animals with an estimated increase in profit to the producers of $532,000.”

Nixon added, “John Cothren, N.C. Cooperative Extension director, has been using his personal vehicle to transport rented equipment to farmers throughout Wilkes and neighboring counties. While this shows his sincere dedication to the success of the program, the purchase of a vehicle totally devoted to the program provides a long-term solution to the logistics of delivering the equipment to the farmers.” 

Wilkes ranks third in the state for production of poultry broilers and beef cattle, fifth for hay, and tenth for poultry layers. Wilkes is the state’s seventh largest county in agriculture cash receipts. The agricultural impact on the county was around $551 million in 2017, making up 36 percent of the county’s GDP and providing 22 percent of the county’s jobs.

“Younger farmers are challenged with continuing in the farming tradition due to the lack of access to and the high cost of necessary equipment,” said Cothren. “I believe this rental program provides valuable assistance to farmers. It supports agriculture as a way of life in Wilkes; it helps existing farmers who are challenged when buying expensive farm equipment; it provides support to those who are considering agriculture as a career; and it helps strengthen farmer relationships with the extension office, which provides further education and is an ongoing resource to farmers.”

The program began with a vision to help farmers in Wilkes County affordably access farm equipment; however, Cothren has also established relationships with farmers in Surry, Yadkin, Iredell, Caldwell and Alexander counties who needed the equipment rental program. Awareness of this great need prompted the Wilkes EDC, along with the Wilkes Cattleman’s Association, to seek additional funds from Golden LEAF to secure farming equipment that is currently not available to rent locally and make it available through the low-cost rental program.

For more information on the farm equipment rental program, contact John Cothren, Wilkes County extension director, at 336-651-7348 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding received from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. For 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation. The Foundation has provided lasting impact to tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural areas of the state by helping create 64,000 jobs, over half a billion dollars in new payrolls and more than 77,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages.

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.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension partners with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land, economy, and families of North Carolinians. N.C. Cooperative Extension is a strategic partnership between N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University along with federal, state and local governments. The N.C. Cooperative Extension provides offices in all 100 counties and with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Its Wilkes County Center is located at 416 Executive Drive in Wilkesboro.

Wilkes Cattlemen’s Association hosts regular meetings to provide educational opportunities and support to local farmers.

Published: Friday, 09 August 2019 12:39

Wilkes Economic Development Corporation (Wilkes EDC) has released a new website www.WilkesEDC.com as a resource and marketing tool for our citizens, entrepreneurs, existing businesses and those who are exploring relocating their business to Wilkes County. “Having a strong digital presence will enhance Wilkes EDC’s ability to accomplish its mission of facilitating the creation of new jobs and capital investment,” stated the Wilkes EDC President, LeeAnn Nixon.


Official Press Release

Wilkes Journal-Patriot Article

Published: Wednesday, 31 July 2019 12:32