WILSON – Gig East, a hub for innovation and community in Wilson, is hosting the Gig East Virtual Summit 2020 this week with programs set for today and Thursday.

Programming begins at 2 p.m.

Session titles and descriptions:

  • Keynote: “Seizing the Moment: Unrelenting Optimism for Rural America”

Matt Dunne, Center on Rural Innovation

Matt has spent his life – and his life’s work – in rural America. Matt says that rural America is “having a moment,” during a global pandemic, and he holds a relentless optimism for rural America’s future. He sees opportunity in the ideals that tech can happen in rural America, broadband can be done really well in rural America, and the diversity of rural America empowers all people.

  • Panel Discussion: “Arts Forward: Emerging and Evolving Arts Organizations”

Hear from three different North Carolina based arts organizations about how they are adapting to meet changing needs in their communities. From learning how Wilson Arts is “filling the gap” that changes over time, to how the North Carolina Arts Council ensures North Carolina’s traditional art forms are preserved, to how the Visual Art Exchange uses art to build trust, this discussion provides an uplifting picture of the important role arts plays in society and culture.

  • Panel Discussion: “Encouraging Our Entrepreneurial Spirit”

Our panel includes two experts in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and an entrepreneur who recently launched his company to great success, moderated by Barton College’s Dr. Gary Daynes. The panel discusses how to support the entrepreneurial spirit and possibilities of all, including how to encourage and develop minority entrepreneurial ventures. Framed through the struggles and opportunities present during a global pandemic, this lively discussion points out the essential skills needed to launch and sustain a business in a rapidly changing climate.

The conference opened on Monday.

Speakers include:

Matt Dunne
Founder and Executive Director,
Center on Rural Innovation

Cathy Brown Hardison
Executive Director,
Wilson Arts

Jeff Bell
Executive Director,
Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park

Carly Jones
Senior Program Director,
NC Arts Council

Brandon Cordrey
Executive Director,
VAE Raleigh

Thom Ruhe
President & CEO,

Dr. Gary Daynes
Provost and Vice President for
Academic Affairs, Barton College

Rachael Newberry
Program Director,

Marcus Aman
Chief Executive Officer,

Learn more details online.