Monday, December 21, 2009

Stokes Business Event

We have been working like busy little beavers to prepare for our "Stokes Business Extravaganza" that will take place Thursday January 21, 2010. In case you are a Stokes County Business or have plans to start a business, I am providing a copy of the invitaiton in this blog. We have a great list of local businesses and non-profits that will be sharing information and we would like for you to attend. Please RSVP to the email or phone number shown below. It is going be informative and a lot of fun (by the way the door prizes are going to be great.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Census Jobs.

I posted this on Buy local blog yesterday:,0,4806938.story

Don't wait, check on this today. Here is a link to the census bureaus site:

Good luck. I spoke with someone last evening that had worked with the census bureau during the 2000 census. They advised it was a great part time job. flexible hours, good pay and mileage reimbursement.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Web Site Building

Many thanks to Lisa from the Winston Salem Journal for her story on our web site building program. We have three sites up and running with three more under way. We have 30+ more in line. This project will not save the economy in Stokes County but it is part of the process. If we are able to put together a plan and find funding to develop a county wide broadband program, implement the web based farm program and continue to grow our tourism economy, I think we will start to see a difference. A more self-reliant, local based economy that depends on growth from within.

Weaving a Web of Business Potential

By Lisa O'Donnell
Published: December 14, 2009
Updated: 12/13/2009 11:25 pm
WALNUT COVE - With its new Web site, Hemlock Golf Club in Walnut Cove has announced its presence to a global audience.
By going online, the staff at the club hopes that folks who are planning to drive to Hanging Rock State Park for a visit will discover that there is a golf course nearby and decide to toss their clubs into the back of their car.
"I had been contemplating for a few years about getting a Web site and never got started with it," said Valencia Robertson, the club's office manager whose husband, Kadren, is one of the co-owners.
The golf club is the first Stokes County business to get a Web site under a new program managed by the county's economic-development commission.
The club's site went up last week. About 30 more businesses, including furniture stores, garages and insurance agencies, will have their own sites within the next few months.
A $15,000 grant from Northwest Piedmont Council of Government's Workforce Development Board is making it possible for the businesses to get on the Internet.
The money was used to build templates and train local interns to build the sites. Once trained, an intern works with a local business person to design the site. The sites are built for free, but businesses must pay for the domain name and a hosting fee, which comes to about $60 a year, said Alan Wood, the director for the economic-development commission.
"If the process works as we hope, it should raise business on several different levels," he said.
Shortly after Wood was hired earlier this year, he noticed that a large number of businesses did not have Web sites.
"One of my primary goals is to assist local businesses and try to help them grow and retain them in the community," he said. "As I started building a Web directory for our Web site, it became apparent how many of our businesses do not have a presence on the Web, so we started talking about it."
For many small-business owners, learning how to build a Web site is costly and time-consuming, he said.
"We took the cost issue out of it," Wood said. "Instead of leaving them to sink or swim, a part of the process is that we will offer our help for six months."
Robertson said that the opportunity was too good to pass up.
"We would've been foolish to ignore it," said Robertson, who started a Facebook page for the golf course a few months ago.
Robertson said that by getting on the Web, she hopes that word will spread about the golf course. The site includes photos, directions and information about each hole. Down the road, she said she would like to add an online pro shop where people could buy clothes and equipment.
Previous to starting its Web site, the club advertised in local publications.
"With the new Web site, we're anxious to see where that takes us," Robertson said.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mitchells Nursery and Greenhouse Poinsettia Display

Thanks to WGHP tv for covering this beautiful event. Mitchell's is one of just a handful of nurseries in the US to offer this brilliant display of color and variety each year. Watch and enjoy.,0,7608666.story. You can also visit Mitchells Nursery and Greenhouse blog link listed on the site for more details

More Social Media Links

Just found this link on Linkedin. It is a prime example of the vast level of information available if you have the time and determination to look for it. These links are specifically for those that are not getting what they need from facebook and twitter. They are more selective in their focus and are aimed at a narrower market.

Don't get frustrated if you haven't found your niche yet. Keep looking or create it yourself.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tips for Businesses for the Holidays and Beyond

Just received this from Jack Schultz and his Boomtown organization. I always find his information relevant and interesting.

We received the following from the Fall 2009 Edition of the Pottawatomie County (KS) Economic Development Corporation's Development Digest. We thought these were great tips to pass along during the holiday season. We wish all our small town businesses much success as they continue to be the anchors in their communities. Holiday Marketing Tips for Businesses by Scott TaddikenWashburn Small Business Development Center That's right - it's that time of year again! I'm amazed every season how many creative and wonderful marketing strategies business owners use during this season, and having spoken recently on the topic, I thought I'd share a few ideas I've come across.

1. Don't overlook any potential markets - Gifts are huge, but decorations, candy and food, flowers (poinsettias and others) greeting cards and postage, etc. are also big. These categories make up to 25% of Christmas spending!2. Black Friday is big, but it isn't everything - Traffic is extremely high on the day following Thanksgiving and some say up to 25% of shoppers will start at 5 a.m. However, Black Friday isn't always the biggest spending day - for brick and mortar businesses, the last two weekends prior to Christmas may be the biggest.Many people are looking for good deals and a place to have fun. Black Friday shopping is something fun to do with family and friends.While many people get out to shop on Black Friday, stores must have a plan to bring them back in to buy.3. People are shopping online - Online purchases tend to increase as the season progresses (people have checked out store specials and done comparison shopping)Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are often good online - people shop in stores over the weekend and then shop online at the beginning of the week. This means retailers must close the sale on the weekend while shoppers are in their stores.4. Spending the week after Christmas and into January continues to increase! - Find a way to bring these shoppers back into your stores. Hand out "good for ___% off your next purchase" coupons to holiday shoppers. Offer surprises with a future purchase and make sure to promote your after Christmas and January sales.5. When they are buying from you, be sure to "Bundle 'em up"! - Create gift packages (corporate gifts, related products, etc.) Remember people are four times more likely to buy something they can touch, so have items available.Ask your vendors for displays or use displays that suggest a product's use or someone else's enjoyment in receiving a product.6. Gift Cards - Did you know that 56% of people spend more than is on the card? So make sure all shoppers know you offer gift cards as a great gift idea.Gift cards are also a great addition to any purchase (buy $25 for $20).Another benefit of gift cards is that they expose new people to your business - great advertising!And remember, some gift cards never get used.Above all be positive, cheery and enjoy the season - your customers will notice!

Remember, you never know who your next customer is so treat everyone with respect.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Social Networking Classes and More from Forsyth Tech

Forsyth Tech is offering you a chance this winter and spring to delve into the murky world of web marketing and social networking. What are analytics and why do I care. Should I have a facebook page, a blog (sounds awful), a Linkedin account? What is a twitter and why do I care. Am I missing out on business opportunities by not knowing this information? I can answer that questions for you: Yes! you are. Look the times over below and give the Small Business Center a call if you have any questions:
Technology Seminars Pre-registration required,
call 336-631-1320
Sponsor: Southern Community Bank and Trust
Location: Northwest Forsyth Center
Time: Wednesday, 6-8 p.m.
Presenters: Malinda Pengelly and Jeremy Shaffer

Making Search Engines Work for Your Business-----Tuesday, January 26

Social Media Network Marketing ----Tuesday, February 16

Website Analytics-Understanding Goggle Analytics, Website Hits, Visits and "Stickiness"-----Tuesday, March 16

They are also offering classes on starting your own business. These will be held at Dukes Restaurant, 1075 N Main St, Walnut Cove

Tuesday February 2: Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Startng a Business
Tuesday March 2: Developing a Small Business Marketing Plan That Works
Tuesday April 20: Keeping Small Business Records and Paying Your Taxes
Tuesday May 4: How to Write a Convincing Business Plan
Tuesday May 11: Searching for a Loan for a Start-Up or Business Expansion

These will be taught by Ruben Gonzales. Don't start a business without a plan. People don't plan to fail, they fail to plan.

There are also classes on customer service. They will be held at the Northwest Forsyth Center, 3111 Big Oaks Drive , King NC from 6 to 8 PM


Tuesday Jan 12: What is Customer Service
Tuesday February 9: Communication and Customer Service
Tuesday March 9: Identifying Your Customer
Tuesday April 12: Dealing with Disgruntled Customers
Tuesday May 11: E-Mail and Telephone Etiquette
Tuesday June 8: Customer Service Summary and Review.

These classes will be taught by Tammy Tally

Classes require pre-registration. Call 336-631-1320, 336-631-1167 or 336-761-1002 to register or for more information

Friday, December 4, 2009

logistics Conference

i just returned from a logistics conference in Dallas Texas. While the show wasn't everything I had hoped, we made several good contacts and picked up some useful information on how the process works. i think we are well situated for expansion in the logistics field for many reasons. We have great access to the population centers on the east coast. The FedEx hub at the Greensboro Airport is a tremendous asset as is the interstate highway system. Given time and a dedicated effort, I believe this trip will bear fruit. It can be another spoke in the wheel as we move forward.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Sales

I understand that web based sales are still foreign to many but please take a few moments to read the attached report and it should start to sink in why they are so important. They only account for about 10% of all retail sales but with a projected 20% rate of growth, they will soon start making in-roads. If you are not taking advantage of this potential source of revenue, my question is why not? It is relatively easy, it is cost effective and it is growing by leaps and bounds.

Friday, November 27, 2009

First EDC Supported Web Site Up

After months of preparation and the assistance of many local partners, the first web site to be built for Stokes County businesses by the Stokes County Economic Development Commission is on the web. The link is : There is still work being done to fill out events and create the persona of the site but it already looks great. There are links to their facebook page and a blog. This site should help the course draw play from outside the area and allow them to create attention as the closest mountain golf course to the Triad and Triangle areas of North Carolina. I am so pleased to see the progress they are making and will be following their efforts in the future.

The web building project is supported by a grant from Northwest Piedmont Workforce Development Incumbent Workers Grant Program. The sites are being built on templates provided and designed by NVizion, a local Stokes County Company and are being built by interns from the local community. There is no charge to the companies for the design and uploading of the sites. They simply provide the information and the background on what they expect the site to do. The companies pay for their domain name and hosting, about $60/year. Their sites will be linked to the Stokes EDC Site our Stokes County facebook page and Buy Local Blog.

There are approximately 30 companies that have requested assistance from this program and it is our goal to build as many sites as are needed. If you have a company in Stokes County or know of someone that does and they need a site have them give me a call or send me an email:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2010 Stokes 4 H Calendar

It is hard to believe how busy these folks are. If you want to get involved, here is a place to start. Wow!

2010 Calendar
Event/Program Date Deadlines/Info
Excellence Scholarship Due January 1 Can be found online
Advisory Council meeting January 6 4:00pm Extension office
County Council/Leaders mtg January 7 5:30pm
Project Books Due January 8 By 5:00pm
4-H Honor Club and Scholarships
January 15 Send to 4-H Office
Fitness Day (tentative) January 16 9-2pm YMCA program center?
Achievement Night January 22 6:00pm
Wii with the Senior in WC January 25 Walnut Cove Sr. Ctr. 10:30-11:30
Teen Night Out February 12 5:30pm-8:30pm
Nutrition Fair March 4 6:00pm
Leaders/CC mtg April 1 5:30pm
Ambassador Portfolio Due April 15 Due to Terri April 12
Presentation Workshop April 29 5:30pm Extension Office
Talent Show May 6 6:00pm
ARI Due May 14 Due to Terri May 7
Summer Registration ends May 28 Begins May 1
County Presentation Day May 29 9:00am
Excellence Scholarship Due June 1 Can be found online (only apply 1x per year)
Advisory Meeting June 2 4:00pm Extension office
Electric Congress July 12-14 Must complete a electric project book/cumulative
record or teach an electric workshop
4-H Congress July 19-23 Raleigh—will plan fundraisers
Advisory Meeting August 4 4:00pm Extension Office
District Officer Training August 7-8
Advisory Meeting October 6 4:00pm Extension office
Leaders/County Council mtg October 7 5:30pm Extension office
Ambassador Portfolio Due October 15 Due to Terri by October 11
Halloween Party/Scavenger Hunt October 29 or
-find a Deejay, make clues, advertise in August,
September, October
Gingerbread Competition December 9
More things will be added and dates could change…however I am trying to keep it simple…please see
me if you have suggestions, additions, or deletions. Thanks so much!!!s

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Web Site as Your Store Window

For this weeks marketing tid-bit, I wanted to address the question: Why do I need a web site. I am attaching a link to an article written by Jim Walton of Brand Acceleration. In the article, Mr. Walton compares a web site to a store window and I think it is and excellent illustration. Your business may be small, it may be in a small town, you may be the only employee but your customers don't need to know this or even care. A web site that is well done is a great equalizer. If you don't have one, you are losing business, if it isn't interesting and current, you are not maximizing your potential. Please think about this as you read the article and have a Great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Reason be part of the digital world

Just picked this up from my Digital Boot camp Class. For anyone not in the digital world, this should cause you to sit up and take notice.

Stories like these are why I believe that what we are trying to do in Stokes County with building a web presence, developing better broadband connectivity and helping small businesses is exactly the right strategy.

Marketing Tid Bit: Leave them wanting More

Running a successful business has many components. The article I am posting below addresses what I think is a critical point: give more than you receive when dealing with your customers and keep them coming back for more. I am a firm believer that your best source of advertising is word of mouth. If you do a good job, your customers will tell others, either in person or on-line. It you fail to live up to expectations those same customers will tell hundreds. You have the power to control that message, based on your service, product and delivery.

How to make your customers Cheerleaders for your business.
First let me begin by apologizing for my long absence. But I am back. For those of you who do not know, I own a "bricks and mortar" cleaning company. We steam clean carpets, rugs, upholstery, tile and grout, and we are certified to do Crime Scene/ Trauma clean up. Whenever one of my people does a job, I GIVE my client something extra, FOR FREE. Something they were not expecting, for example; I will give free deodorization if they have pet stains, or do the bathroom tile along with the kitchen, or I will do the drapes for the customer. The key here is that I don't do any advertising, but I DO give my clients 10 business cards with their client code written in the corner on the back. I ask them to give these to their friends, and let them know that any work I get from their referral, will result in 10% of the job coming back to them in the form of a gift certificate to a popular local restaurant. They can take their spouse out to dinner on me. By the way, the restaurant is also a client of mine, therefore I am bring my commercial clients business, while rewarding my residential clients for bringing me new business. The beauty of this practice is that I am GIVING far more value, than the customer expected to receive, when they called. This makes them fans of my business, and aggressive cheerleaders for my company. The same practice holds in MLM, Or Internet marketing; GIVE value first, then your customers/prospects will want to follow you to see what else they can obtain from you, be it education, advice or technical savvy. Let's face it the same reason you monitor where your kids go on the internet, and who they talk to, is exactly why you need to give before you seek a return. It is Dr. Ivan Meisner's principle of "giver's gain". You need to give value before you seek to influence the decision making of others. This is because no one online really knows who you are unless they can see verifiable aspects of your life, talk to you on the phone, read your articles and gauge for themselves, the value of your training, advice, etc. This is why established internet marketing trainers like myself, give away their content. I don't charge for all of the training that I provide. I instead make small commissions of of several affiliate marketing arrangements. This way I am giving my clients value, and helping them build their business' long before they ever become clients of mine. I build a relationship with my clients before they become my clients, and it is that way that the internet becomes a tool for me while remaining a game for my kids, and wife. This is the latest in a series of articles designed to apply traditional business training to the online marketing environment, for more insights like those above, or to learn where I got my training, check out; To learn more sign up for the free training on my site, And I will send you a FREE bonus. Mark Acciard Owner, Business Builder Autopilot 781-424-8863

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Business Advice

Thanks to Homer Dearmin, Town Manager of Walnut cove for sharing this information. It sounds like common sense but I am always surprised at the number of businesses that fail to do the simple things.

A Business Dies Every 2 Hours
It breaks my heart to go shopping sometimes. There's the "Going out of business sale!", the pride saving "Lost our
lease sale!", and the cardboard headstone "Space For Rent". They are all a result of the same problem . . . not
enough customers.
It's nice when you can open a business and attract new customers the next day. It's great when a web site
guarantees your profitability. But none of those things happen without good planning. Without a good plan, and
the proper execution, businesses die very quickly.
1. Let people know you exist - Advertise and market yourself -- don't forget social media. If people don't know
where you are and what you do, they can't buy from you. Advertising and marketing greatly increases your
chances of success.
2. Don't scare the customer - Make the customer feel comfortable with your product, service or services.
Provide an environment that they will feel safe in. Make them feel good about spending their money.
I walk by stores all the time that are open, but look very dark inside. That doesn't make me feel like going inside.
You can't attract new customers if they are not comfortable with you.
3. Look the part - Businessmen wear suits. Policemen carry guns. You are reading this article because we look
the part. We effectively display our ability to attract new customers. You can do the same when you look the part.
If you were going to buy tools, you would expect a guy with a tool belt and a smock to help you out right? After all,
he looks like he knows what he's talking about. What if you went to go buy a power saw and a lady in a clown suit
asked if she could help you? Exactly. Look the part and you can attract new customers without any problems.
You be surprised at how many people break these simple rules. I go exploring around my city and I find little out
of the way businesses that I would have never known about before. They are good businesses with absolutely no
exposure. So when I go back a few months later to see them again, they are out of business. It's very sad. They
don't go out of business because they are bad at business, it's just that no one knew where they were so they
never made enough money to stay open. You can't attract new customers when they don't know you exist.
"Our work is the presentation of our capabilities."
Edward Gibbon
English historian and Member of Parliament
Barbara Wold
International Speaker, Author and Business Strategist
Global Retail & Consumer Expert
Keynote Presentations -- Seminars & Workshops -- Retreats
Manager Meetings & Corporate Conferences
Downtown Revitalization & Merchant Retention
P.O. Box 5755, Balboa Island, California 92662 USA
949.675.8845 fax 949.675.7732
Barbara Wold is a street-smart, down-to-earth business speaker, presenting topics from sales and marketing to
customer service and tourism. She is an international speaker who has "WOWED" over 450,000 people from all 50 of
the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines,
Japan, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, India and the United Ar

Stokes Business Extravaganza Save the date

Economic Development Commission

Stokes County Business Owner:

The Stokes County Economic Development Commission has scheduled an event in January 2010 to bring all Stokes County businesses together for a night of fun, food, networking and socializing. In doing so, we are asking our businesses if they would like to participate with a display or in some other manner.

The event will be held at YMCA Camp Hanes in their Dining Hall on January 21, 2010 from 5:30 until 7:30 PM. (Set up time for those having booths will be from 2:00 till 4:30 PM.)

Display space is limited so booths will be issued on a first come first serve basis. We will provide tables and table cloths. Power availability is limited, so if you will need power, please make that request when reserving your booth. (No floor displays are permitted)

If not interested in a booth, please consider providing business cards, brochures, or promotional items (Pens, Notepads, Magnets, etc.) These items will be available to all attendees as they register.

We anticipate this being a fun and entertaining evening. We will be providing numerous door prizes and will have give-aways through out the evening. We will be happy to accept door prizes (all companies providing door prizes will be featured in our program handout.) Deadline for receiving door prizes is January 10, 2010. This event is free of charge. Event sponsorship is available

If you have any questions about this event or to reserve your booth, please call Alan Wood (Economic Development Director) 336-593-2496 or Missy Dodson (Office Administrator) 336-593-2811 ext 1677 or via email at .

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the

Stokes County Business Extravaganza

PO Box 20 Danbury, NC 27016 336-593-2496

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Tid Bit

As any of you that know me are aware I believe that digital marketing holds one of the keys to success for many businesses. Our EDC is working to promote this in numerous ways, building web sites at no charge for local businesses, providing a local facebook page, a blog and our just started by local campaign.

To further continue these efforts, I am attempting to find relevant information on how, what, when, why and where to go in digital marketing. I hope this information is useful. Please feel free to share comments and other links as you find them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stokes County Branding

We have been working for the past six months on an updated brand for Stokes County. This is an exhilarating and often frustrating process. If you have never been involved in such and effort, give it a try, you will most assuredly learn something. Below is a link to a story an edition of USA Today on such a process.
After you finish the story, take a look at our efforts and remember it is a process and not a science. We are trying to promote Stokes County as the playground of the NC Piedmont. Let me know what you think. I think it is pure fun! Let me know which logo you prefer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Depopulating of Rural America

I just finished reading this article: and I believe it provides a reasonably accurate description of what we are seeing occur in rural North Carolina and to a certain extent Stokes County. I think it is exactly the reason that we must move forward with our plans to strengthen our local infrastructure, to become more engaged with our elementary and HS students. We must also make every effort to have training made available through our community college system and reach out to our institutes of higher learning. If we can not provide a reasonable opportunity for our best and brightest to earn a competitive wage, they will continue to leave for rural America and our small towns will die a slow and agonizing death.

I do not think this is inevitable but it will take a concerted level by everyone from local governments to institutes of higher learning with egos checked at the door to turn the situation around. I welcome your thoughts and comments after reading the article.

Friday, November 6, 2009

George Fest Celebration Saturday

Many thanks to the Winston Salem Journal for this report (see Below) I think this will be a wonderful event and the weather is supposed to be spectacular.

-- Lisa O'Donnellrelish reporterlo'

Published: November 5, 2009


To all the curious folks who have heard about the Hare Krishna Temple tucked among the Baptist churches and old tobacco barns in Stokes County, Mitra Das says, "Hare bol."

That's the Hare Krishna version of "Hey" or "Howdy." Das knows that many people may be wondering about the 15 or so Hare Krishna families who have lived on a gorgeous 360-acre spread in northeastern Stokes County since 1991.

"We're just living our lives, raising our kids. Most of us have grandkids," said Das, who was sitting in one of two homes he built on the temple's grounds. "We're trying to present what we have to people in a way that is relevant to their lives."

One area where the devotees (as Hare Krishna followers are called) and others can find common ground is George Harrison, whose interest in the Hare Krishna movement and all things India colored much of his creative output, beginning in the late 1960s until his death in 2001.

In celebration of Harrison and his contribution to the movement, Das is organizing George Fest at the temple from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

"It's a way to let people outside of the community interact with others in the community," Das said.

The Hare Krishna movement is a branch of Hinduism that was founded in 1966 by Swami Prabhupada, an Indian who took his message to the West in the 1960s. Devotees are most known for chanting a 16-word mantra that they believe brings them to a higher level of consciousness with Krishna, or God.

The group was often associated with hippies of the 1960s, but true devotees walk a straight line and abstain from any kind of intoxicants and illicit sex.

The festival is family-oriented and will include a sitar concert and workshop, yoga and meditation classes and a talk by Guru Das, who was among the first of the Hare Krishnas to meet with Harrison in London in the late 1960s. The two spent time together eating, chanting and talking about spiritual matters and developed a lifelong friendship.

At the festival, Guru Das will share photos and stories of Harrison.

Also included will be a big vegetarian buffet -- Hare Krishnas have become known for their lavish and exotic food spreads -- as well as more familiar fare, such as pizza, brownies and bread. Das' wife, Maharha Dasi, will prepare much of the food. The grounds and its trails will also be open for people to explore, and Carolina Ziplines, which is based in Stokes County, will have a temporary zipline set up.

The festival will culminate with a sing-along of Harrison's hit, "My Sweet Lord," which includes the famous Hare Krishna chant. Das said he is hoping that 100 people will bring guitars to the festival to play and sing the song. The chords are posted on the festival's Web site, www.

Late last week, Das was hoping to find a local church choir to sing with festivalgoers. "I think that is something that George would be happy about," Das said.

Although Harrison never became a devotee of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the official name of the Hare Krishna movement, his interest in chanting and mediation lent it legitimacy, Das said. "I'm sure because of his involvement, there was some credibility given to it. People thought, ‘If George is into it, it can't be all that bad,'" Das said.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the festival. Teenagers are $10 and children under 12 are free. Attendees who bring guitars will get $5 off the ticket price.

For more information, including directions, visit www.ncgeorgefest>


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Marketing Tidbits

It is my aim in some small way to bring new concepts or well developed ideas to the people who may stumble on to my blog. These ideas may come from many places, the web, friends on Linked-In, news articles or the dark recesses of my own mind. I found the following in a blog from Deborah Drake's ( and think it tells a great story on how social networking and marketing on facebook can bring people closer and create income opportunities for small business. Please enjoy:

A Startup Success Story (and Facebook played an active role!)
October 8th, 2009 admin Leave a comment Go to comments
Ok, it’s late and I am up too (again) late but before I sign off for the night: I “gotta” share this story that ran in the San Francisco Business Times for a couple of reasons that have me beaming and I hope you can feel my enthusiasm leap off your screen:

September 25, 2009 — The San Francisco Business Times featured How Fast Time Flies as its Startup Spotlight (read the story!) Web site helps weave memories into digital scrapbooks .

A pleasantly surprised How Fast Times Flies founder recently shared it with her Facebook circle (of which I am gratefully part of.)

#1 Cathy Biddy Bennett was once upon a time a high school classmate of mine and well I don’t think any of us of the Santa Catalina class of 1983 figured back then (as we headed off to college) that for some, our fortunes would be made via the internet. Were we even conscious of it as we chose Liberal Arts degrees and pursued careers in medicine, finance, law, teaching and other fine fields?

#2 Real Relationships and Strategic Alliances played a significant role in catalyzing this success story. And trust and collaboration paid off big time.

#3 Utilizing Facebook successfully helped build a brand and generate interest that became sales and more sales:

“Ecom also built Bennett a Facebook presence in January 2009, and the business took off.

Prior to Facebook, How Fast Time Flies had about 11,000 members. Membership more than doubled within six months. Bennett now advertises on Facebook, has a Facebook application and a dedicated fan page.

“That medium is so, so powerful,” Bennett said. “I didn’t get into it at first because I didn’t think my customers were there; I didn’t think moms were there. And, yeah, they are.”

Cathy very gently, genuinely and tactfully used first her personal page and later her business page to showcase some of the cool things that customers had created. I watched as time passed that she got a little bolder, but remained understated as well, in her posts to share wins and wows. And her way “of being” herself, clearly attracted even more interest and customers.

No hype, just honest and genuine enthusiasm from Cathy the person (and the proud business owner), sharing customer creations month after month and contest winners as voted upon by the community. I recall one time months back, she unknowingly double posted only then to apologize for the duplicate posting. I suspect no one minded the double take. For her authenticity always shines through for me.

Using social networks like Facebook or perhaps one that is more targeted, such as Greenwala, a newer network established to champion all things Green will increase awareness of you as individual or cause or company over time. Facebook is for everyone AND within the entire population are the tribes we identify with also.

More specialized social networks may be easier to locate by online searches and they may have fewer members BUT at least you know they are more than likely receptive to you and your values and offering. The question may be how many active profiles in different communities can you consistently cultivate and participate and contribute to? A dormant profile within a community could send a mixed message, so being discerning about where you spend your energy seems a valuable dialogue to have.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessary to “over think” a Social Media Strategy. In fact, over thinking it could backfire sometimes. Authenticity trumps strategy time and again and good finds are naturally shared through friends and family and groups and now, social networks. So imagine that you have a good thing that simply needs to be more easily found. God bless the entrepreneurial cheerleaders” who created first newsletters, then websites, and now populate their blogs with the great exciting things they have found as they journey the web or the physical world.

Social networks allow for you to reach out, as yourself, be yourself, and be more easily discovered (if you are ready to be). Planning your involvement professionally and tactically is important, like the foundation of a home is. And genuineness rings true and clear where posts and pitches are concerned. And responsiveness when one can be, builds rapport naturally.

One of my favorite phrases is “Social Media is Straight Up Honesty.” -Francisco Rosales, of

And for as long as I have seen Cathy posting on Facebook as the mom and friend and business woman she is, I have felt her gentle spirit in every post and comment and share. Inspiring in me a desire to use her company’s fun service (aka patronize her) and let my circles know about this cool way to digitally beautify and share photos with others.

Good Product/Service I need/want + Generous/Gracious Leadership + Values that Align with Mine = Gets My Attention and Business!

I celebrate this former classmate’s enterpreneurial success and again gently encourage all you who are waiting to join in Social Networking, as the meaningful channel it is to grow personally and professionally and organically over six months, one Facebook post at a time, with some strategic and well-timed ads to attract new followers (per the article).


Grant Assistance For Farmers

This information was forwarded from Michael Hylton in our local Cooperative Extension Office. If you are a farmer or know of one that can use assistance in applying for grants, this is great information.

NC Western Piedmont Farmers Eligible for Grant Awards
The Rural Advancement Foundation International will host a “how to apply” grant workshop at the Stokes County Extension office on Tuesday, November 24th, at 3pm. All area farmers with new farm enterprises that demonstrate innovative opportunities in production, processing and marketing are encouraged to attend.

The program is managed by Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA)
As the “Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund (TCRF)”. RAFI coordinates information workshops, accept applications, awards grants and monitors the results.

Supported by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the grant program is designed to keep farmers in farming and to maintain the economic base of North Carolina’s rural communities. All farmers are eligible. Priority is given to projects that provide opportunities for a new generation of farmers and to applicants who had tobacco income at the time of the Master Settlement Agreement.

Eligibility: Qualifying producers must be farmers or farmer “groups” actively engaged in full or part-time farming in the Western Piedmont. Western Piedmont counties include Ashe, Alleghany, Surry, Stokes, Rockingham, Wilkes, Yadkin, Forsyth, Guilford, Caldwell, Alexander, Iredell, Davie, Davidson, Rowan, Burke, Catawba, Rutherford, Cleveland, Lincoln, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Stanly, Union, and Anson.

Awards: The maximum amount available to individual farmers is $10,000 and $30,000 for collaborative farmer or community projects. Grant applications for the Western Piedmont Region are due January 13th, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. The timeline for submitting grants in other NC regions can be seen at:

“The TCRF is designed to help farmers put their own ideas to work to develop new income sources,” said Jason Roehrig, RAFI Program Director. “Through cost-share grants, we can help reduce the risk of trying new ideas.” Examples of past projects have included improved greenhouse vegetable production, supplies for pasture-raised livestock, expansion of nursery operations, farmer’s market assistance and more.

“We anticipate a large number of farmers benefitting from this unique opportunity,” said
William Upchurch, Executive Director of the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. The ultimate impact is preservation of the family farm.

Project Partners:
Tobacco Trust Fund Commission:
Established in 2000 by the NC General Assembly to manage funds that are part of the
Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Grants target farm areas that have historically
depended upon tobacco income through farming or tobacco-related businesses.
William Upchurch, Executive Director, 919-733-2160
Jeff Jennings, Program Officer

Rural Advancement Foundation International
Private non-profit that promotes sustainability for family farmers and communities.
Joe Schroeder, Field Coordinator (Western Piedmont) 919-323-7587
Jason Roehrig, Project Director, 919-542-1396

Interested farmers and representatives of agricultural cooperatives or associations may
obtain applications at or by calling 919-542-1396 ext. 208.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Final Thoughts on Solar 2009

I made it home safely form the left coast. The solar conference was one of the most well attended that I have seen in many years. We had appointments with over 25 potential clients over three days and attended several training sessions covering incentives and other topics. I came home with several impressions and many more questions.

Much of Europe and Asia are well ahead of us in solar deployment. Germany is the world leader and Spain has made a large push. China is making a lot of noise about cleaning up their act but I don't buy it. California and New Jersey are in the forefront of the efforts in the US. The efforts here are uneven and are mainly determined by who has the best incentives. Sometimes the incentive come and go, depending on state budgets.

The questions surround whether or not we stay the course. At the present time the cost power produced by solar in most areas is not competitive with more established sources, especially not in North Carolina. There is a wide gap and this has to be bridged with incentives or rising cost or new technology. I think we must continue to explore every avenue available until we find the answers to our dependence on foreign energy. Solar needs to be a part of the strategy and North Carolina needs to be a player in this. I will be interested in following the industry and comparing who is present at the conference next year as compared to this year.It should be an intersting ride

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Solar Energy 2009

I am in Anaheim this week for Solar Power International 2009. This is a three day event that has over 900 vendors and 25,000 attendees. It reminds me of a carnival. You have the sideshows, the pithcmen, and the hucksters, the only thing missing is the rides and Disney is just down the street.

This may not be totally true but it is the feeling I get walking around the convention center. I spoke with a fellow Economic Developer and he said that probably less than 20% of the companies showing at the conference will be in business within two years. That is probably not unusual for and emerging industry but it certainly makes my job tougher. Who do you try to recruit? The PV manufacturer? They are running at less than 50% capacity and there will probably be a major consolidation in the offing. A solar farm? This involves huge investment, a partner to buy the power and they are very dependent on tax credits. It is a difficult market to handicap. I have another day tomorrow and we have about 15 appointments, maybe I can at least find a cotton candy vendor.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Broadband Efforts

Thanks to the approval of a feasibility study by the Stokes County Commissioners, we are moving forward with a study to see how broadband service can be improved in our county.
This is a long term process aned there are many unknowns that this study will work to clear-up. Story below:

By Lisa O'Donnell


Published: October 26, 2009

Updated: 10/26/2009 12:20 am

DANBURY - Relief may be on the way for people in Stokes County who are on the wrong end of the digital divide.

The Stokes County Commissioners recently approved $21,000 for a feasibility study that will map, as closely as possible, where broadband access is already available and look at what it would take to increase accessibility.

Alan Wood, the county's director of economic development, is one of the driving forces behind bringing high-speed Internet access to more residents.

He estimated that broadband is available to about 65 percent of the county's residents, most of whom live in the populated areas of King and Walnut Cove and along major corridors. The rest of the population either doesn't have a computer or relies on dial-up Internet access.

"Broadband is at the core of everything we are trying to do economic development-wise in Stokes County," Wood said. "It's a necessary utility for economic development, like water and sewer. That's my opinion. Without it, you don't have the tools to recruit or let existing businesses grow and prosper."

Businesses aren't the only ones who can benefit from high-speed Internet. Although all of the schools in the county have high-speed Internet, many students do not have it at home. That limits their ability to do research and take online courses.

Stewart Hobbs, the superintendent of Stokes County Schools, said that schools often stay open past the final bell so that students have access to computers.

"We're in a technology world now. We're really pushing 21st century global skills, and we need students to have access to the Internet at home," Hobbs said. "From kindergarten up, a lot of our kids' learning takes place on the computer."

As it is now, Stokes residents get their Internet through their telephone or cable company or by satellite.

Some flock to the Stokes County Library in Danbury to use one of its several computers. High-traffic times are in the afternoon when students get out of school, said Nora Lankford, the branch librarian.

Marisa Renegar-Smith of Lawsonville was at the library recently to use its computer because hers was not working. She gets her Internet service by way of satellite but that is expensive, costing about $65 a month.

She said she would like to have another choice.

"Now, you get dial-up and wait forever or pay a lot," Renegar-Smith said.

The feasibility study should be ready in a few months.

After that, it will be up to the commissioners to decide whether increased accessibility is too costly or something they should pursue.

If they do decide to pursue it, the county could be eligible for stimulus money. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made $7.2 billion available for increasing broadband in rural areas.

A new wave of money will be released in late February or March, and Wood wants Stokes County to be prepared with a shovel-ready project to submit.

The issue of increasing Internet speed is one that comes up often among county residents, Commissioner Jimmy Walker said.

"Because we've not given sufficient attention to this important issue, I feel like we've gotten behind and now, it's like we have to try harder to get up to where we need to be," Walker said.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Digital Bootcamp

My wife and I spent three and a half hours of our Saturday in Greensboro discussing the world of digital marketing. I know this doesn't sound like the best way to spend a weekend but it was very enlightening and if the programs we are trying to put in place in Stokes County are going to be effective, I need to learn.

We learned that every application doesn't fit every business but a well thought and developed marketing plan can not exist without the digital world. We discussed why web pages are needed. The list is long but I think the most compelling one we discussed was the credibility it adds to a business.

This reinforces what Mr. Jim Morgan, Chairman of the Board of the Piedmont Triad Partnership told me earlier this week. Mr. Morgan said" I still believe that most of my business comes from word of mouth. This has changed now because after they are given my name they check me out on-line." Without this on-line prescense his clients and might go somewhere else. I think this is true for not only his business but for almost everyone that has a company in the digital world.

I will be taking the rest of the classes in the series in the hope that I can find ways to help the 500+ businesses in my county find an edge.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hurray to Stokes

Glad to see this article. This is just a small sample of what technology can do in Stokes County.

Stokes County technology wins award
by Leslie Bray Evans
16 hrs ago 23 views 0

A technology project implemented in Stokes County last year has won a high level award. The Probable Cause Video Conferencing system was named one of the winners of the Local Government Federal Credit Union employee productivity awards given by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC).The honor was presented on Friday, August 28, at an awards ceremony at the Metro Convention Center in Hickory. It was brought back to Stokes County and presented formally for everyone to see at the September 8 county commissioners meeting in Danbury.A review committee from the NCACC chose the Stokes County technology innovation as one of the top 10 project applications received from all over the state. The project was slated to be featured in the organization’s monthly newspaper, CountyLines,“I want to personally commend your team for its creativity, innovation and commitment to improving county government,” said David F. Thompson, executive director of NCACC, to the Stokes County project team. “County employees like you set a wonderful example to others to rethink their way of doing business.”The award included a $1,000 check. According to Stokes County Manager Bryan Steen, the monetary award will be handed over to the county, possibly to be used to help defray the cost of the Employee Holiday Lunch in December.The winning project makes use of technology to video probable cause hearings and transmit the proceedings to the proper authorities. This has resulted in substantial savings in time and gas for county law enforcement officials. Safety has been increased as well since the system cuts the trips law agents must make with suspected criminals in their custody.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Ally For Stokes County

We are pleased to welcome the Dan River Basin Association to Stokes County. This dedicated group can be a huge asset in our efforts to increase tourism and create new jobs.

Advocate to promote Dan River
Journal File Photo
The Hemlock Golf Course access is no longer open to the public after the lease was not renewed.
By Lisa O'Donnell
Published: October 21, 2009
Updated: 10/20/2009 10:35 pm
DANBURY - Many paddlers would agree that the prettiest sections of the 200-mile-long Dan River are in Stokes County.
Those sections are also among the most difficult to access.
Dale Swanson hopes to change that.
Swanson was recently named the Stokes Program Coordinator for the Dan River Basin Association, a nonprofit organization based in Eden that has become a strong advocate for promoting and protecting the river. Some of the association's activities include organizing outings on the river, working with local governments and building trails.
The new office is in the same building as the Stokes County Arts Council in Danbury.
Katherine Mull, the executive director for the association, said it made sense to expand to Danbury.
"Stokes County is really a gem, and it is one of the most popular places to paddle because it is so beautiful and there are natural heritage sites," she said. "We needed to have an office there, so this is a dream come true for us."
Swanson and a few other Stokes County leaders approached Mull a few months ago about opening a Danbury office. The timing was right for Swanson. He had recently been laid off from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and was looking for something to do.
He also works as a guide for the Dan River Company, a local outfitter.
"I know the river from top to bottom," said Swanson, who is volunteering his time.
His first project is getting more public accesses to the river. The accesses in Francisco and at the Hemlock Golf Course in Walnut Cove were closed to the public a few years ago, leaving the county with just two public accesses -- one near Hanging Rock State Park and another at Moratock Park in Danbury. The owners of those other accesses did not renew leases with the county to keep them open, Swanson said.
"At the time, there was no real advocate locally pushing to work something out to retain those accesses," he said.
Those accesses are important economically because the river is a regional draw for paddlers and people who like to fish, Mull said. Once in the county, they look for places to buy gas and eat.
Alan Wood, the economic-development director for Stokes, said the association will help the county figure out ways to use its natural resources, such as the Dan, to fuel the economy.
"We have two main resources, tourism-wise, and that's Hanging Rock State Park and the Dan River. The Dan is a wonderful natural resource, and we have not done a very good job in developing it as an asset," Wood said. "They add legitimacy in promoting the Dan River and will be a huge ally," he said of the association.
The organization has also been successful at winning grants that are not available to municipalities, Mull said.
In addition to trying to reopen the two closed accesses, Swanson hopes to launch Trout in Classroom, a Trout Unlimited project that teaches schoolchildren about the importance of water and watersheds.
He also plans to look into routing a branch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the river and work with local landowners about how to build a proper river access.
He said there are a few improperly built private accesses that have eroded, causing sediment to fall into the river.
The community will play an important role in all of the organization's projects, Mull said.
"We're not coming in with preconceived notions about what Stokes County needs," she said. "It's all going to come from the community."

Leaf Update

With the Piedmont experiencing predominantly cloudy, overcast skies and ample rainfall throughout most of the region this past week, color change has struck a holding pattern. However, for the first time since beginning our 2009 Piedmont fall foliage reports, a substantial and significant difference between elevations in the Piedmont Region is now noticeable. Reporting from Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County, Park Superintendent Dave Cook observes that higher elevations in the park are now starting into peak period, while lower areas have not changed significantly over the last week. Approaching the park from NC Highway 66 and 89 in Stokes County, you can see a dramatic difference as color sweeps down from the top of Hanging Rock before fading and blending in at lower elevations. Nearing the elevation of 2,572 feet, Dave believes that leaf change is between 40 and 50 percent. Red Maple, Blackgum and Sweetgum, Sourwood and Flowering Dogwood, are showing off nicely with oranges, yellows and reds.

Stokes Farmers Visit Rutherford County

A group of 14 local farmers and local business people and government officials visited Rutherford County on Monday to learn about a really exciting program. Below is an article published in this weeks Daily Courier, the local Rutherford County Newspaper about the visit. There are also pictures here and on the Stokes Toursim and Development facebook page.

The program ties local farmers to chefs and other buyers for their produce via the Internet. Orders are placed on-line and the goods are delivered within 24 hours. There will be much more to come on this project.: Photo above is Billy Ray, lovingly named after Billy Ray Hall from the NC Rural Development Center. The Rural Center funded the High School program discussed below via a grant. Billy Ray (above) is a Ossabow Island Pig. The breed is known for rooting and has nicely marbled red meet. The meet has a strong following in certain gourmet markets through-out the country.

Visitors study farm projects
by Larry Dale
1 day 9 hrs ago 33 views 0
RUTHERFORDTON — Visitors from Stokes County came to Rutherford County on Monday to take a look at the farming efforts being fostered by Foothills Connect Business & Technology Center.One of the stops for the visitors was at the R-S Central High School farm to see the agricultural operation there.Teacher Brandon Higgins talked about the process of clearing land and improving the soil through the rotation of goats, pigs and chickens across the land and the selective cutting of timber.The R-S Central operation was once “all cotton farming land,” Higgins explained, and has only two to three inches of topsoil, so an effort has to be made to build the land back up. The animal manure adds nitrogen and helps build the soil, and sales of the animals are a money-maker for the school.The visitors got to see Billy Ray, the Ossabaw Island pig, and the teacher explained how the “red meat” hog is being crossed with other breeds to produce leaner meat, since the Ossabaw naturally is a fatty animal. Ideally, he explained, the school would like to have six sows and breed one a month with the Ossabaw. “It looks like Billy Ray has a home for life,” Higgins noted.The teacher said he is in his fourth year at R-S Central, and the number of students in the program has grown from 75 to more than 200, a testimony to the growing popularity of the program.Higgins spoke with pride of the successes of the farm program at the school, but he warned his visitors that soil building and the effort to become sustainable is “a long-term process.”“This is an animal science facility,” he said, with the livestock being raised for meat and milk. He noted, for example, that 35 chickens were sold to a county restaurant as broilers.The Stokes visitors also were shown the school’s two greenhouses, including the one that was recently completed.“I would like Stokes County to learn what Rutherford County has taken from this,” said Kaye Moorefield, treasurer/ secretary for the farmers market of Stokes County, on Monday at R-S Central. “They have seen what needs to be done, they’re doing something about it, they’re getting the kids involved, and I think that is fantastic. In Stokes County, we are hurting as badly as Rutherford, and I think if we can get some programs set up and get the education in the schools and get the younger kids interested, I think we’ll be OK in the future.”Among the other visitors from Stokes County were: Michael Hylton, interim director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Stokes County; Harvey Moser, president of the King Farmers Market and Stokes County Economic Development Director Alan Wood.“There’s a variety of people from the county to see what we can do to help Stokes County,” Moorefield said.She said that in many ways, Stokes is “a sister county to Rutherford, with job losses, farmland usage, loss of farms. I think it is the same, or very similar.”Farmers Fresh Market has linked Rutherford County farmers to the lucrative Charlotte market and the Stokes County visitors are hopeful that their farmers can likewise be linked to Winston-Salem and Greensboro markets.When the Stokes County group arrived, they were welcomed by Jim Brown, chair of the Foothills Connect board. During introductions, the contingent met County Manager John Condrey, regional heritage tourism official Frankie McWhorter and Liz Rose, owner of CafĂ© at the Mall in Forest City.Ms. Rose, an enthusiastic supporter of the Farmers Fresh Market project, urged the visitors to get local restaurants involved in buying from the local producers. She showed them what she places on her tables to promote the local producers and to let her customers know she is buying from local sources.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Walking the Walk after Talking the Talk

If you have been around me very much, you already know that I am passionate about what I do. You may also think that I go a little overboard on the value of web based marketing and the impact it can have on your business. This of course include social networking, pay per click advertising, etc.

I am admitting here before all the readers of this blog (both of you) that I am a relatively recent convert to the system. I fought carrying a cell phone for many years and wanted nothing to do with a blackberry, smart phone, etc. As with most converts, when the change came it was dramatic and eye opening.

I have often said that a reformed anything was scary and so it is with me. I am waging a battle, with the help of a great many good people in Stokes County assisting me, to create a better economic future for our residents. We don't have a huge budget to accomplish this. What we do have is a vision, passion for what we do and a developing game plan.

This game plan includes a web based marketing campaign that reaches out to every business, large or small that wants to participate. We will give them a listing on our web site, that is searchable by name, business type or key word search. If they don't have a web site, we will build the one! If they already have a web site but it isn't being used to it's fullest potential, we want to help. If they don't have affordable broadband, we hope to bring it to the county, with a lot of help (our commissioners approved a feasibility study yesterday that will allow us to map where broadband access is currently available and start the process on where it needs to go, how to get it there and the costs. If you see them, please tell them thank you. This may be the most important project we undertake in my lifetime, if we area successful.

Our economy is changing, as if you haven't noticed. The only way we can be competitive is if we change faster and get in front of the curve. That is exactly where we are headed. If you see me on the street and have already heard the story or don't want to hear me preach, then cross to the other side of the road. I am a convert and as my wife is fond of saying, I don't take it serious, I take it personal!

Below is a great link on how to set up a fan facebook page:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Picture of Wreath that won 1st place in the Winston-Salem Florist Association Competition at the Dixie Classic Fair

This entry in the Winston-Salem Florist Association Professional Division of the floral design competition won first prize at this weeks Dixie Classic Fair. The wreath was done by designer Jane Elolf from Talley's Flower Shop. It is made of all natural elements. The face is done in various seeds, such as crushed rye, poppy seeds, lintels, etc. The beard is done in wood shavings and the hair is made of natural virgin wool. The theme for the event was "Twas the Night before Christmas" and the line used for inspiration was 'It encircled his head like a wreath". Jane is an accomplished, award winning designer and her creation truly captures the spirit of the poem. Thanks to Sarah Johnson for sharing this wonderful bit of news about the talented people that exist in Stokes County. Hurry Christmas, don't be late.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Stokes County Web Development Program

It has taken several months and a lot of grunt work by my faithful work group but we are finally ready to role out our web site development program. This is a wonderful chance for any small business that wants to take part to have a web site of their own. There is no reason for anyone, large or small to be left out. Look at the press release and the story in the Winston Salem Journal for detail. Let me know if you have any questions.
Economic Development Commission



Contact: Alan Wood – STOKES COUNTY (336) 593 - 2496
The Stokes County Economic Development Commission (EDC) is ready to “kick off” a program to build web sites for local businesses that are not currently active on the internet. The EDC applied for and received an Incumbent Workers Grant from NW Piedmont Council of Governments' Workforce Development Board to make this program possible. The grant will pay for development of templates on which the sites can be built, training of the interns that will build the sites and their travel to the company’s place of business. The web sites will be built free of charge by interns from the local community. The only cost to the company will be acquiring their domain name and a monthly hosting fee (approximately $25 for the domain name and $6.00/month for hosting.)
The idea for the program was developed during strategic priority sessions held by the EDC earlier this year. These sessions established short and long term goals and objectives for the EDC. It was readily apparent that while there were many challenges ahead, there were also opportunities that were being overlooked. Many of these involved the active use of the internet to market the county and the businesses in the county.
Several strategies evolved from these sessions. The development of new web sites to allow the EDC to better promote itself on the world stage was determined to be very important but we needed to do something to help local businesses as well. A working group was established and over the course of five months a plan developed. Build web sites for local businesses! Go to their place of business, at their convenience, gather the information needed, explain the process, build the sites, teach them how to maintain and update their sites and charge them $0. In addition, our clients, local Stokes County businesses will be introduced to such things as web based marketing, web site analytics, keyword analysis and advised on strategies for developing a cost effective internet marketing campaign. The interns will work with the businesses for up to six months to insure that there is a comfort level with the site and that they understand the need to keep information updated and how to update it in a timely manner.
Nvizion, a local company located in King was hired to build the templates for the sites and will provide training to the interns. The interns will be provided with assistance from the Northwest Piedmont Council of Governments Workforce Development and will be students from our technical schools and area high schools. Using local students allows the EDC to tap into a large pool of talent and at the same time provide these students with an important opportunity to develop skills and learn to interact with local business leaders.
The first sites will be built for six or seven local companies that have agreed to participate in a “Pilot Program”, with the understanding that this is a new process and there will be details to be worked out. After the successful completion of the “Pilot” sites, the program will be available to all Stokes County businesses that do not currently have active web sites. The EDC will continue to build web sites for companies as long as the money last or until everyone that wants or needs a site has one.
Local leaders were intrigued by the program. Leon Inman, chairman of the Stokes County Board of Commissioners was quoted saying “there is huge growth potential for businesses in Stokes County. If you want to participate in a global economy, you must be searchable on the internet. This program allows you that opportunity.”
EDC Board Chair Worth Hampton echoed those thoughts, “I am a small business man and I believe the economy of the future will take on even more of a global feel. Your customers might come from anywhere and if you are not a participant in the web network, you will be leaving potential business on the table.”
Althea Hairston, Director of the NW Piedmont Workforce Development Board embraces the concept, saying “The Northwest Piedmont Workforce Development Board recently awarded Stokes County Economic Development a grant that will provide training to over 500 small businesses in their use of technology to increase public awareness which will result in increased revenue and business expansion. This is a great example of maximizing available resources to grow businesses in Stokes County.”
The first sites should be underway in late-October and the project should be running at full speed later this year. It is hoped that the second group of sites can be started before year-end. Anyone interested in having a web site build should contact Alan Wood, Stokes County Economic Development Director at 336-593-2496 or email him at

Published: October 2, 2009

The Stokes County Economic Development Commission has received a $15,000 grant to assist in building Web sites for local businesses that are not on the Internet.
The grant, which was awarded by the Northwest Piedmont Council of Government's Workforce Development Board, will pay for developing templates and training local interns to build the sites. Nvizion, a company in King, will provide the training, according to a release by the commission.
Interns will come from local technical and high schools. The sites will be built for free, but local businesses will have to pay for the domain name and a monthly hosting fee.
A small number of businesses are participating in a pilot program, which will be open to all Stokes County businesses, most likely by the end of the year.
For more information, contact Alan Wood, the director of the commission, at 593-2496 or e-mail

News Story from Fox 8

Below is a link to a story on Fox News 8 that aired yesterday. It concerns broadband access in rural areas and what is being done about it. Stokes County is reviewing proposals to do a feasibility study on the level of access that exist in the county and what we can do to improve it. Stay tuned for more details:,0,7800005.story

Assistance from Stokes County Partnership for Children

Cindy Tuttle, Executive Director of Stokes Partnership for Children, would like for anyone who has an interest in receiving funding from their Smart Start Program review the following information. This is a great program and I hope everyone will take time and review it. Our children are our future and we need to help them get off to the best start possible:

Smart Start Request for Proposals (RFP) Stokes Partnership for Children, Inc. wants to fund acceptable programs, which relate to young children (birth through age five) for fiscal year 2010-2011. Programs should help ensure that all of Stokes County’s young children enter kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed. Proposals will be accepted in the areas of family support, health, and early care and education. Funding priority will be given to programs that will result in specific outcomes. See for details.

The availability of Smart Start funds is contingent on the final budget adopted by the NC General Assembly for the 2010–2011 fiscal year.

Individuals, organizations or agencies interested in seeking Smart Start funding should obtain details and attend one mandatory grant workshop, to be held at Stokes Partnership for Children, either on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. or Wednesday, October 14, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. Please call to register. All proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. Friday, December 11, 2009. For details, contact Stokes Partnership for Children at (336) 985-2676. Applications became available October 5, 2009, and may be downloaded at or available by request by calling 336-985-2676 or by email request at

RFP packets became available on-line yesterday both in a hard copy format and electronically.

To learn more about the Request for Proposal process you must attend one of the two workshops offered at Stokes Partnership for Children:
Tuesday. October 13, 2009 at 6:00 pm or
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 9:00 am
Registration is required for either of theses sessions.

All proposals are due no later than 5:00 pm, Friday, December 11, 2009.
Applicants will be required to participate in a face-to-face interview in January 2010.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good News for Pets in Stokes County

We are very glad to read this but will not be happy until the number of animals that need to be destroyed approaches 0! Keep a look-out on the Stokes County facebook page or call the Stokes County Animal Shelter at the 336-994-2788 to help rescue these wonderful animals.

Animal Shelter Bans Gas Chamber
WXII Videos


It’s a good day for Stokes County animal advocates. As of August 27, the Animal Shelter in Germanton, off Sizemore Road, is no longer using the gas chamber to euthanize cats and dogs. The shelter has chosen what most believe to be the better alternative, lethal injection.
“I’m so proud of Stokes County because they’re placing value on our pets,” said Mona Triplett, head of the newly formed Stokes County Humane Society.
Triplett, who has been involved in animal rescue for over 10 years, has been waiting for this day to come. “Most people don’t realize how inhumane it is to put an animal in a gas chamber. In the past I’ve placed almost 98 percent of the animals I’ve rescued into loving homes, because they knew the tragic way these pets would be put down if they weren’t adopted.”
Phillip Hanby, the director of the Stokes County Animal Shelter says, “We knew eventually we would go to injections; it’s just taken time.”
With an average of 30 cats and dogs put down per week, Hanby admits that this has increased the workload for him and his staff, but “it’s something that needed to be done,” he says.
The United States Humane Society reports that six to eight million cats and dogs are placed in shelters every year. Nearly four million are euthanized. Hanby is working with local organizations, such as the Stokes County Humane Society and
Stokes County Animal Rescue to not only place adoptable pets but also to educate pet owners about having their pets spayed and neutered.
In an effort to euthanize less, Hanby has implemented a Stokes County Animal
Control website through and a page on Facebook to promote their adoptable pets. “This has been a great tool for us. We’ve had calls from New
York to Pennsylvania that have resulted in adoptions,” he notes.
Triplett says, “The Animal Shelter is making great strides in the community.
We’re seeing a tremendous effort on their part.”
Triplett is actively involved as well. She oversees spay and neuter clinics throughout Stokes County. She also donates her time to “Helping Hands, Food for the Furry” Food and Supply Drive. This program prepares boxes of food and pet supplies to hand out to those who can no longer afford to properly care for their pets. Donations can be dropped off at three locations. The designated places are Pampered Pooch in King, the Stokes County Animal Shelter and the Animal Hospital of Walnut Cove.
States around the country are rethinking their pet welfare legislation. In April of 2009, seven states proposed a ban on carbon monoxide gas chambers as a form of euthanasia. Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina were on that list. NC Representative Cary Allred introduced
“Davie’s Law,” named after a puppy that survived a Davie County gas chamber and was later found in a nearby dumpster still alive.
According to Animal Law Coalition, the NC bill “was defeated and the legislation is dead for this session.”
States that have been successful in banning the gas chamber and implementing lethal injection are: Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland,
New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming,
Connecticut and most recently, West Virginia and Illinois.
“That’s why this is such a victory for Stokes County,” says Triplett. “It’s not by law they had to shut this down. It was a choice, a very good one.”
For more information on the Stokes County Animal Shelter or for information on how to adopt a pet, visit or call 336-994-2788.
This article appeared in Thursday's edition of the Stokes News.


Is my favorite month of the year. I wait for it through the long, hot summer days, knowing that the mornings will dawn, bright, crisp, cool and delightful. It is football season, country fairs, harvest time, falling leaves and blue skys.
I know that times are tough and we all have burdens to carry but on this beautiful October day, take a few moments to go outside take a deep breath and be thankful. October is only 31 days long and I hope you enjoy them all.

Below is a poem that I first read in the 7th grade and still enjoy today:

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)
October's Bright Blue Weather
O SUNS and skies and clouds of June, And flowers of June together, Ye cannot rival for one hour October's bright blue weather;
When loud the bumble-bee makes haste, Belated, thriftless vagrant, And Golden-Rod is dying fast, And lanes with grapes are fragrant;
When Gentians roll their fringes tight To save them for the morning, And chestnuts fall from satin burrs Without a sound of warning;
When on the ground red apples lie In piles like jewels shining, And redder still on old stone walls Are leaves of woodbine twining;
When all the lovely wayside things Their white-winged seeds are sowing, And in the fields, still green and fair, Late aftermaths are growing;
When springs run low, and on the brooks, In idle golden freighting, Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush Of woods, for winter waiting;
When comrades seek sweet country haunts, By twos and twos together, And count like misers, hour by hour, October's bright blue weather.
O suns and skies and flowers of June, Count all your boasts together, Love loveth best of all the year October's bright blue weather.