North Wilkesboro, N.C. – NC Tech Paths Purchases Wilkes Journal-Patriot Building
NC Tech Paths, a local nonprofit focused on local jobs placement and entrepreneurship in the modern economy, announced the purchase of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot newspaper building in downtown North Wilkesboro to serve as their first Regional Tech Outpost, or “RTO.” The building, at 711 Main Street, will house more than 80 technology employees, entrepreneurs and freelancers in addition to the remaining newspaper operations and one other existing business office.
“We are beyond thrilled to plant our footprint in the heart of downtown North Wilkesboro—a wonderful location on Main Street surrounded by our local amenities,” said Craig DeLucia, President of NC Tech Paths and CEO of The Leonard G. Herring Family Foundation.
The RTO will provide two valuable solutions for residents of Northwest NC who participate in the hybrid work environment: coworking space for independent workers and entrepreneurs and company office “pods” for remote employees of partner companies such as InfusionPoints and Inmar Intelligence. These pods provide space for a remote team to work together more collaboratively than work-from-home can allow. All net proceeds from the RTO operations will fund NC Tech Paths’ nonprofit mission.
“Our employer partners have committed to supporting professional development, interviewing, and hiring qualified candidates through our educational partnerships with Wilkes Community College and Per Scholas,” said DeLucia. “But the ability to bring that local talent together in a hybrid work environment is perhaps our greatest lever to scale our plan to serve as many people as possible in the local region. Talent no longer needs to decide whether to work-from-home or relocate, and we’re proud to be the facilitator.”
“Humans are social creatures who have gotten a tad burnt out by solitary work from home during the pandemic,” says Zach Barricklow, Executive Director of NC Tech Paths. “The trend is to work from home two days a week, while three could be spent in an office with other professionals sharing values and ideas. Wilkes has a history of entrepreneurship, so it’s fun and easy to imagine what sorts of projects and businesses will come from a collaborative environment like this.”
NC Tech Paths launched in January 2022 to connect residents of Northwest NC with high-growth jobs while addressing the greatest hiring need for companies in our state: technology talent in an era where every company has tech workforce needs. The organization also seeks to develop emerging technology entrepreneurs and increase the community’s overall access to tech experiences from kindergarten through adulthood.
The RTO will be remodeled in collaboration with WorkPlace Architecture and Design of Winston-Salem, working closely with acclaimed designer Peter Marsh and architect Paul Meyer. Workplace Architecture + Design is a full-service firm with extensive experience in corporate and educational projects, including innovation center design, and is responsible for such renowned projects as the Flywheel coworking and innovation centers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina.
“The design will focus on creating office space, conference rooms, phone booths, lounge areas, wellness rooms, designated desk space, and a multipurpose open floor plan for floating desk space as well as events,” says Doren Tripp, the RTO’s new Community Manager, and primary manager of the space. Tripp, who relocated from Oklahoma City for the opportunity to manage the space, joins a robust team that also recently added Caitlin Pitkin Massey as K-12 Talent Manager, with responsibility for cultivating relationships with students, parents, and the faculty and staff in all eight high schools in the WCC service area.
“We’re extremely grateful to the Leonard G. Herring Family Foundation for their seed funding of our nonprofit, the ability to hire such a world-class team, and this first of several buildings,” said Barricklow. He noted that NC Tech Paths may need a second facility in relatively short order, and that business leaders in neighboring counties have already made contact about their desire to help expand the organization’s physical footprint in other rural downtowns to serve remote tech workers in their own local populations.
NC Tech Paths expects to open a portion of the first Regional Tech Outpost by Fall and the remainder by the end of the year. The two current residents, including the Wilkes Journal-Patriot, will remain in the building.