Through a collaborative partnership with Wilkes Community College, SkyLine Membership Corporation has contributed $5,000 toward the Telework Expansion Initiative of Northwest North Carolina. Ashe, Alleghany, and Wilkes counties are the center of an initiative led by Wilkes Community College (WCC) to build a regional strategy to leverage high-speed broadband for the economic growth and opportunity of its citizens and communities.

In order to accomplish this objective, a regional team was formed made up of partners from education, economic development, local government, internet utility providers, and entrepreneurs. The first achievement of the team was the launch of Startup Northwest NC, an online portal connecting entrepreneurs in Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany Counties with resources, trainings, connections, and inspiration.

The next phase in this regional collaboration and strategy is preparing the current and emerging workforce in northwest N.C. with the skills, credentials, and employer connections to pursue telework-friendly careers that allow them to remain in the region while earning a family-sustaining income in high-growth fields, such as coding and cybersecurity.

Northwest North Carolina is well-positioned for remote workers thanks to gig-capable fiber-optic internet available in the vast majority of Alleghany, Ashe, and Wilkes counties. This robust internet service is a direct result of the efforts of several communications groups, including SkyLine Membership Corporation.

“We fully embrace the concept of growing a telework economy for northwest North Carolina and appreciate the leadership of Dr. Jeff Cox and Zach Barricklow in spearheading this collaborative initiative,” said SkyLine Chief Executive Officer Kim Shepherd. “SkyLine’s decades-long investment in fiber technology throughout our network and the final leg of that project to connect homes and businesses directly to fiber broadband and other communications services position our region as future-ready and offer a distinct advantage of attracting job creation and economic prosperity for years to come.”

“SkyLine has long been a leader in our region,” said Dr. Jeff Cox, president of Wilkes Community College. “They have consistently looked ahead and made strategic investments that set our communities up for success in the future. We are extremely thankful for their partnership in this initiative to expand our telework economy. We believe that a resilient workforce and robust rural economy of the future includes a mix of teleworking professionals who can access jobs and salaries not readily available in our service area. This increases the likelihood that these individuals will stay in our region and not be forced to move away to find job opportunities. It also builds an ever stronger ecosystem of talent, which feeds back into our entrepreneurial startups. We are excited about the potential ahead for northwest North Carolina and, again, thankful for partners like SkyLine Membership Corporation that help make the future as bright as possible for our communities.”

l-r: Zach Barricklow, WCC VP of Strategy; Allison Phillips, WCC VP of Institutional Development; Dr. Jeff Cox, WCC President; Karen Powell, SkyLine/SkyBest Public Relations Administrator; and Edward Hinson, SkyLine/SkyBest Chief Marketing & Sales Officer.