WILKESBORO (June 15, 2022) – The nonprofit NC Tech Paths has a three-word slogan: “Live. Train. Remain.”
“We’re not going to reach our goals for this community if we continue to educate our best and brightest and export a high number of them to other communities around the state and around the country,” says Craig DeLucia, now President/CFO of NC Tech Paths.
“Company after company has said, ‘We are in a fierce competition for talent, and we will hire it and allow it to live wherever we can find it.’ That’s the opportunity in front of us.”
Because every company is in some measure a tech company these days, DeLucia says, NC Tech Paths will aim to connect Wilkes Community College graduates with jobs in software engineering, network support, IT positions and cyber security.
Winston-Salem-based Inmar Intelligence – a data-analytics and marketing firm with 5,000 employees in the U.S., Mexico and Canada – has been an “amazing” partner, DeLucia says. The company plans to send its software engineers to local high schools to talk with students about tech careers.
Wilkes Community College President Dr. Jeff Cox says that with the first group of NC Tech Paths grads this spring, “We’ve got companies ready to interview those students as soon as they graduate.”
In fact, all 10 students in NC Tech Paths’ first group of software engineering graduates already have job offers – and they’re expected to more than double their income.
The effort has even become part of a downtown redevelopment initiative in North Wilkesboro.
The Herring Family Foundation and NC Tech Paths bought both the former Wilkes Journal-Patriot building and a former American Drew furniture plant site to serve as “Regional Tech Outposts” and be developed into a makerspace, housing and a riverside park to link downtown Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro.1
The former newspaper building will open this fall as “The Masthead” and provide spaces for workers to collaborate – co-working and event spaces, as well as company-dedicated “pods” for remote teams to work together.
Lee Herring, president of the Herring Family Foundation that contributed $2 million for implementation of the college’s strategic plan, says that for too long, talented students in Wilkes, Alleghany and Ashe had to leave the community to find good jobs.
“Now, with this initiative, they will be able to stay and help us improve the community and enjoy it as well,” Herring says.