In a further effort to drive technology adoption and development in rural areas, the e-NC Authority recently handed out a series of grants totaling more than $222,000.

In all, six technology-based projects in Rocky Mount as well as Anson, Bladen, Gates, harnett and Martin counties received funds.

e-NC has been charted by the North Carolina General Assembly to drive adoption of Internet, technology and to encourage the spread of broadband access across the state.

“These funds will support essential programs to provide Internet access, develop computer skills, and increase the employability of North Carolinians,” said Jane Smith Patterson, executive director of the e-NC Authority, in a statement. “Through these grants, e-NC continues its dedication to technology-based economic development and connecting North Carolina to a better future.”

The largest grant went to the Rocky Mount-based Carolinas Gateway Partnership, a public-private industrial recruitment agency. The group focuses on economic development for Edgecombe and Nash counties.

The group received $199,659 which will be used to fund its Gateway Technology Center that is scheduled to open early next year. The 15,000-square foot building will include four classrooms, two labs and a conference room. The Partnership plans to offer distance learning classes to residents of several counties. The facility received a $125,000 grant from e-NC in 2003.

“The project’s objectives are to increase the number of residents in the region with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees; lower the cost of professional employee retention for existing industries; and recruit new high-tech companies to the area, resulting in job creation,” the e-NC said in a statement.

The remaining $22,000 in grants was divided among the five other counties for e-community programs.

e-NC has awarded more than $2.5 million in community grants since 2001.