The NC Rural Economic Development Center, Inc. This organization has been a very helpful resource since the summer of 2015, when we first began thinking about: (1) the mission to repurpose Francisco Elementary School as a center for services and an anchor institution serving as the engine helping to drive economic development, (2) ways to advance high speed broadband access in rural areas, learning during one of their major events, (3) exploring the need and value for creating a nonprofit. The Rural Center helped provide feedback on the unique model developed for our area and facilitated a key community meeting where a unanimous support decision was made. Visit us http://www.ncruralcenter.org/
Surry Telephone Membership Corp. This organization has been a great collaborator as they advance internet coverage of NW Stokes (their service area) by getting fiber optic cable in the ground and advancing their electronics to help with broadband / Internet access, very high speed service, and explore ways to help with affordability while burying fiber optic cable. They have installed eight Wi-Fi access points for emergency services within or at our county lines and have worked with us to identify seven free community Wi-Fi locations…starting with Francisco Community Building / Francisco School and the Rock House Ruritan Club. Other innovations are being explored. It is great to have a service oriented member owned company to work with. Visit us http://surry.net/
The Construction Professionals Network Institute, Inc. (“CPNI“) provided volunteers from across NC for a day and a half visit to Francisco Elementary School to learn about our school and vision as they offered their expertise. There were introduced to Our Communities by The Rural Center and Preservation NC. CPNI is a non-profit initiative focusing on construction industry related projects and community service throughout the State of NC. CPNI was founded in 2006 by CPN of North Carolina, Inc. (“CPN”), a non-profit construction industry membership organization, to expand its mission of service to the construction industry and provide assistance to communities throughout NC. Please see report Visit us http://www.cpni-nc.org/ and CPNI (PDF).
As it explored taking on ownership of the recently closed Francisco Elementary School from the Stokes County Board of Education, The Stokes County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) saw an opportunity to work with Our Communities and it’s nonprofit to find a productive reuse of the School. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was unanimously approved by the BOCC on April 25, 2016, then reviewed in detail during an assembly of Our Communities and approved without objection. There is a working group that meets each month to discuss progress, barriers, next steps, and ways to protect the property; important to OC and Stokes County. Please see MOU (PFD).
Thanks to the generosity of NVIZION, Inc’s owner and Stokes County’s own Frank Lawson, his wonderful web designer, Patrick Fry, and OC’s Broadband/Web Slingers Team, the Our Communities site is up and running.