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Misty Chase,

Project Director

BEYOND TOBACCO

(252) 747-3446

mchase@co.greene.nc.us

 

Beyond Tobacco is based upon the knowledge, skills, and professional norms associated with community capacity building and economic development.  It also recognizes the unique opportunities of the Internet to strengthen communities and enhance individual access to skill set enhancement and lifelong learning.

 

Beyond Tobacco will take the next step to expand network access from primarily students to the larger Greene County population.  DSL service and T-1 lines are available to less than 8% of the population.  Dial up service is cost prohibitive and slow.  By providing reduced-cost wireless service throughout the county in centrally located hot zones, Greene County workers can take advantage of online opportunities to increase their personal and professional skill levels, and, consequently, their economic situation.

 

The Beyond Tobacco will building upon the existing benefits of Project iTech and expand Project iTech to connect low-income working people and struggling small businesses in Greene County to economic opportunity.  The Beyond Tobacco TOP Project will develop a robust wireless broadband network through which we will provide new online resources to help parents and small businesses to move beyond their traditionally tobacco-focused jobs and small business opportunities.

 

Non-Agricultural Entrepreneurial Opportunities – For those interested in non-farming opportunities, and in partnership with existing small business centers, Greene County will create an online tool that provides information and resources to form new, mobile businesses.  This online tool will provide links to detailed information and resources that can be found on the ground and on the web, including practical, sector-leading guidance in starting a business, expanding a business, getting capital, and increasing sales.  We will also create a place to share thoughts, ideas, and advice with an online chat room.  Content that will be available at the “Entrepreneur Center” includes building a business plan, pricing goods and services, locating local, regional, state and federal resources, improving cash flow, coping with growth, using technology to build business, training workers and handling human resource issues, protecting assets with insurance, and marketing on a small budget.

 

The Beyond Tobacco project will result in infrastructure deployment throughout Greene County, a significant and measurable increase in the technological skill level of the adult workforce (particularly in the agricultural arena through re-skilling and application of technology to existing work processes), and a definitive causal link between the investment in information technology and training and economic development benefits, such as job creation, increase in entrepreneurship, and increased economic wealth at the county and family levels.

 

Finally, while the Beyond Tobacco project will improve the economic well-being of rural tobacco farmers, the structure and content areas are fully transferable to other populations.  Once implemented and proven effective, we expect this program to be replicated in other isolated, rural and/or agriculturally dependent areas which are struggling to adapt to a new economy.  In addition, this project will have immediate impact on the counties surrounding Greene, as other farmers become aware of the changes this project has brought to their contemporaries.

 

 
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