NC Tech Paths, a local nonprofit focused on providing high tech jobs and fostering entrepreneurship, announced additional details on plans for a building it purchased on Main Street, North Wilkesboro.
NC Tech Paths bought the building formerly fully occupied by the Wilkes Journal-Patriot at 711 Main Street earlier this year and plans to house more than 80 technology workers, entrepreneurs and other professionals there. It will also provide teleconference suites and community meeting space, stated an NC Tech Paths press release.
The building, named “The Masthead” in recognition of its housing the Wilkes Journal-Patriot newspaper since the early 1970s, is scheduled to open for these new purposes this fall. The masthead is the top part of a newspaper front page with the name of the publication and other information.
Craig DeLucia, president and CFO of NC Tech Paths, said the building will “be that front page, first-stop physical space for the technology and entrepreneurial community – the top of the proverbial technology mast.” It is a great way to pay homage to what the space has been previously, as a pillar in downtown North Wilkesboro, and announce what it will be going forward.”
It will be the first NC Tech Paths “Rural Tech Outpost,” or “RTO,” the release said.
Two existing tenants, including the Wilkes Journal-Patriot newspaper staff, remain in leased portions of the building under prior agreements.
A significant portion of people occupying the building will be graduates from technology education programs sponsored by NC Tech Paths to provide economic mobility for residents of Wilkes County, the release stated.
An event at The Masthead from 4-7 pm, Aug. 12 will celebrate graduates of a summer IT Support tech training program delivered in partnership with Wilkes Community College and Per Scholas. The event will include food, music, giveaways and views of plans for The Masthead.
“The Masthead gives us a flexible space to serve our employer partners and the local technology community, as well as the broader business community in the area,” said Zach Barricklow, executive director of NC Tech Paths.
Barricklow noted that several graduates of the initial educational programming with Peter Scholas and Wilkes Community College will work in the building, reinforcing the NC Tech Paths motto: Live. Train. Remain.
“This building gives local talent the opportunity to remain in Wilkes County to work and support a family while collaborating with other professionals,” he said.
A portion of The Masthead will be dedicated to larger office suites (“company pods”) for employer partners of NC Tech Paths that hire technology talent out of training programs delivered in partnership with WCC, Per Scholas and four-year institutions.
The remainder of the co-working facility will be available to individual professionals, creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs through open and reserved desk memberships and private offices, the release said.
It will have meeting rooms available for rent; indoor/outdoor event space; a podcast recording studio; full kitchen with espresso machine; dedicated space for personal wellness; areas to display art and professional photography; and a community portal that links to local businesses to provide discounts, amenities and promotions for co-working members to support local shops and restaurants.
Doren Tripp, NC Tech Paths’ community manager for the facility, said he relates co-working to a collaborative workspace and events club.
The concept is to have a space for people to work remotely while also getting to see and connect with real people. This allows our members to build community, collaborate on creative and problem-solving endeavors, host events and training, or simply have a space to network and build friendships.”
Tripp continued, “As the community manager, my goal is to create a space that not only facilitates a great work environment and community but also incentivizes those in the space to walk down the streets, pouring into the economy and ‘keeping it local.’
“Building up the local retail and restaurant market with members of our space is the ultimate telltale sign that we are being successful. Both Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro have so much to offer, and we want The Masthead to spur more business activity, even inspiring entrepreneurs. to add to the thriving downtowns and surrounding area.”
NC Tech Paths collaborated with Peter Marsh of Workplace Architecture and Design and Flywheel Coworking on design and operational matters.
“We are excited to work with NC Tech Paths to design and set up operations of The Masthead co-working space,” said Peter Marsh. “The Rural Technology Outpost concept and integration with the regional educational systems is a really innovative way to engage the corporate community to benefit smaller cities.”
Flywheel designs and operates a network of innovation centers in North and South Carolina and Marsh said this program is unlike anything else in these regions.
“Members of The Masthead will have reciprocal membership with our other locations. We have a suite of programs and service offerings in support of entrepreneurship and the startup journey that we will coordinate with The Masthead co-working staff. Working with the NC Tech Paths team, we look forward to serving additional locations in Northwest NC.”
Preliminary architectural drawings can be accessed at themasthead.space.
For more information or to join The Masthead, contact Doren Tripp at [email protected] or by calling 336-660-6555.