RALEIGH- More North Carolinians in rural parts of the state get vital technology training, thanks to Microsoft and e-NC Authority.

With $50,000 in cash support, the Unlimited Potential grant will support the e-NC Business & Technology Telecenter (BTT) program, which provides free Internet access and computer training to rural NC. In 2004 alone to more than 46,000 individual citizens received services from BTTs.

“We are extremely grateful for Microsoft’s generous support,” said e-NC Authority Chair Oppie Jordan. “The e-NC Business & Technology Telecenter program works with citizens and businesses in our most distressed areas, promoting the effective use of technology as a means of improving the economy. This grant will help us take the job-producing telecenter program to a new level.”

The focus of e-NC is technology education and inclusion to help eliminate the digital divide throughout North Carolina. “These Centers, more than anything, act as catalysts for economic development in their regions by creating a combined total of 289 local jobs in 2004 alone,” reports e-NC leadership.

The e-NC authority launched its BTT telecenters in 2002 with technical and business support services to 16,673 public and private sector clients, and leased space to 33 organizations.

Excitement over the grant is obvious at e-NC. Four additional telecenters, one of which opened July 21, are in the works by the e-NC Authority. A telecenter tool kit, a step-by-step guide for creating a telecenter, is in production. Plus, development of a technopreneur program is underway, which will provide for a liaison between telecenters, technology, and small businesses. As a standard, all BTTs do or will provide digital literacy training services to entrepreneurs and displaced workers, small businesses, local governments and local nonprofit organizations.

“Microsoft has long believed that inside each and every person there is great potential. For many, however, economic and cultural issues impede their abilities to harness this power and achieve their goals,” said Microsoft Greater Southeast District General Manager Kirsten Kliphouse. “That is why we created our Unlimited Potential program, which has provided more than $60 million in cash and software to community organizations throughout North Carolina since 2000. The e-NC Authority works tirelessly to help North Carolina’s underserved communities more fully realize their potential through much-needed technology access. Giving the resources is the easy part, but working hands-on to help people transform their lives and businesses like e-NC does every day is where the real magic occurs. We feel privileged to be a part of these efforts.”

This is not the first time e-NC has been recognized for its much needed and outstanding work. In 2004, the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated almost $2 million for the establishment of four more telecenters, located in Anson/Union, Northampton/Halifax, Rutherford and Rockingham counties.

Visit: www.e-nc.org

Laura Childs is a freelance writer and director of client relations at Articulon, a raleigh-based public relations and marketing firm. She can be reached for comment by sending an email to laura@articulon.com.