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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wilkes Chamber Members Continue Growth

Three outstanding, innovative, and visionary businesses continue to grow during these economically challenging circumstances, CenturyLink, Duke Energy, and Wilkes Telecommunications.  These companies, two of which have a huge presence in Wilkes County; CenturyLink and Duke Energy, and one homegrown, Wilkes Telecommunications, continue to experience acquisitions and introduce new product lines and services.   These companies, while growing, also remember the importance of giving back to people within their communities.  

CenturyLink began in the 1930s as a minuscule company with 75 customers operating in the owner’s home open every day except Sunday from 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. while the owners went to church.  Today, CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the United States and operates in 37 states and select international markets.  CenturyLink is a premier provider of broadband, phone, and entertainment services for business and consumers and in May began offering wireless service.   The company has over 15 million access lines, in excess of 45,000 employees, and provides service to some 95% of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies.  CenturyLink is an S&P 500 company and is included among the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations.  

On April 1, 2011, CenturyLink closed the largest acquisition in the history of the company with the acquisition of Qwest, not two years after it acquired Embarq.  

On April 27 this year, CenturyLink announced its intent to acquire Savvis, a global leader in cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions for enterprises.  With the addition of Savvis, CenturyLink will achieve global scale as a managed hosting and collocation provider and will accelerate its ability to deliver quality managed hosting and cloud capabilities to its business customers.  The combined company will operate 48 data centers located in North America, Europe, and Asia with more than 1.9 million square feet of gross floor space; a robust, national 207,000 route mile fiber network; and a 190,000 mile global access network. At up to 100 gbs, the network will enable businesses to run bandwidth-intense applications without decreases in quality, security and performance. The acquisition is expected to close third quarter 2011.

“Yet, a region business model allows the company to maintain its focus on local markets, operating locally much like a small business—big business resources with small business resourcefulness,” said Lottie Ryans, CenturyLink Vice President for the Western NC/TN Division.  CenturyLink’s local manager, Keith Brown, is based in North Wilkesboro, and leads a dedicated, highly trained, team of employees who collectively have over 290 years of service. This team makes decisions about the local market, maintains service and community support. “CenturyLink is committed to strengthening and improving the communities it serves, not only through its products and services, but through philanthropic support of local community agencies, events and initiatives.  CenturyLink has a strong philanthropic culture through targeted financial and volunteer involvement," said local manager Keith Brown. The company's key focus areas are K-12 education, and community development. Their goal is to partner with communities to help create economic sustainability by leveraging all our resources, including technology-focused initiatives and locally-driven efforts that strengthen communities and make them better places to live. Employees share this commitment and are active volunteers in both individual and company-led efforts.

Duke Energy announced in 2010 the plan to a merger agreement to combine with Progress Energy creating the nation’s largest utility company.  This merger is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.  This merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy will create an enterprise value of $65 Billion and have more than 7 million customers in six regulated service territories that include North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.  The combined company will be called Duke Energy and will be headquartered in Charlotte, NC. 

In a recent press release from Duke Energy the following statements were made. “Our industry is entering a building phase where we must invest in an array of new technologies to reduce our environmental footprints and become more efficient,” said Jim Rogers, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Duke Energy.  “By merging our companies, we can do that more economically for our customers, improve shareholder value and continue to grow.  Combining Duke Energy and Progress Energy creates a utility with greater financial strength and enhanced ability to meet our challenges head-on.” Rogers continued.  “This combination of two outstanding companies is a natural fit,” said Bill Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Progress Energy. “It makes clear strategic sense and creates exceptional value for our shareholders. Together, we can leverage our best practices to achieve even higher levels of safety, operational excellence and customer satisfaction, and save money for customers by combining our fuel purchasing power and the dispatch of our generating plants. “This merger also provides predictable earnings and cash flows to support our dividend payments to shareholders,” Johnson added.   

Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the US, regulating utility operations serve approximately 4 million customers.  Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Duke Energy is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  Giving back to community is important to Duke Energy.  They recognize the needs of community and technical college systems as budgetary constraints have presented challenges.  The Duke Energy’s Community and Technical College Grant Program have designed grants that provide a financial boost to enable college systems to extend their expertise, to provide rewarding opportunities for students and revitalize manufacturing in the Carolinas.  

Wilkes Telecommunications, as your neighbors, customers can count on support in area schools as well as many community programs and organizations.   Last year, Wilkes Telecommunications contributed more than $60,000 to dozens of local charities in Wilkes County.  “With Wilkes Telecommunications, your money stays in Wilkes County,” states Eric Cramer CEO and General Manager.  The company presented 28 graduating high school senior with scholarships for $1,000 each.  The scholarship program is in its tenth year.  Eric further states, “Wilkes Telecommunications believes the scholarship program is an excellent way for us to contribute to the future of this community.”  
Wilkes Telecommunications believes in giving back by supporting local organizations and events such as Relay for Life for Wilkes County, Communities In Schools, March of Dimes, UTA (Wilkes Youth Leadership Program), Wilkes Chamber, Ruby Blackburn Pardue Adult Day Care, Singing in the Foothills and Ebenezer Children’s Home, United Way of Wilkes, Rainbow Center Div. –Barium Springs Home for Children, and others throughout the county.  Wilkes Telecommunication’s dedication to the Wilkes Community was recognized in January 2011 at the Wilkes Chamber annual meeting with the “Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award” and later in the year by the United Way of Wilkes with the “Above and Beyond Award.”  CEO and General Manager Eric Cramer states, “When company representatives work together on a volunteer project outside of the office, they forge stronger relationships with each other and feel good about doing something meaningful.  Likewise, they will pay more attention to a company’s message if they find that the company is committed to a cause which in turn increases morale and growth for the company and the employee.  We want to foster a culture of giving back to the community.”  
As to growth for Wilkes Telecommunications, there are major projects planned for the company and many are already underway.  Recently the company entered into an agreement with Verizon Wireless as part owner of Clear Stream Communications, LLC to participate in Verizon’s LTE (Long Term Evolution) in Rural America Program.  Through this program Clear Stream customers will have access to a 4G LTE network, a state-of-the-art global standard for high-speed wireless data services.  
Wilkes Telecommunications is also placing Fiber to the Home (FTTH) throughout the existing exchanges through previous Rural Utility Service (RUS) and Federal Stimulus funding.  The company was awarded a $21.6 million federal stimulus loan/grant to make high speed broadband internet available in a large portion of the non-profit cooperative’s service area.  After all construction is finished, the cutover process can begin; this is where the customer is removed from the copper network and placed on the fiber optic network.  Wilkes Telecommunications and contractors are currently doing some form of work related to the fiber network throughout our entire service area.  Eight hundred miles of fiber optic cable will be buried when the project is complete.  There are Wilkes customers that are already using the fiber network in four of the company’s exchanges – Boomer, Champion, Clingman, and Lomax.  With the new fiber optic network, residential and business customers will have virtually unlimited amount of available bandwith to meet growing technological needs.  By the end of 2011, the company hopes to be near 40% complete with the over-build, with completion of the work scheduled in 2015.  
Wilkes Telecommunications, 60 years in existence, is expanding service throughout the county.  Based in Wilkes County, the company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wilkes Telephone Membership Corporation and provides a variety of residential and business telecommunications and entertainment services.  Services range from unlimited voices services and enhanced calling features like Caller ID and Voice Mail to High Speed Internet, Digital TV (including HD and DVR service), Business Phone Systems and Support, Residential and Business Directory advertising, and security (burglar alarm), and fire and personal emergency response systems monitoring.  
Wilkes Chamber of Commerce appreciates the support of CenturyLink, Duke Energy, and Wilkes Telecommunications.  The chamber applauds their employee involvement as chamber leaders, active committee members, and support of chamber programs as well as many others in the Wilkes community.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wilkes Chamber Networking Event for August

Remember the Small Business Networking Event on August 3rd, 2011. This month will be hosted by Charlie Silva of Blue Skies Hypnosis Center and will be held in the Chamber Boardroom.

The topic will be "Educating the Public on the use of Hypnosis."

Their Mission:  Blue Skies Hypnosis Center is committed to helping you grow personally, professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. We will accomplish this by using hypnosis as a means to help you believe in yourself, your inherent goodness, your integrity, and your enormous potential.

For more information on this and other events, visit: Chamber Calendar.

This is a Chamber Member only event. To learn more about becoming a member contact, Jamie Lakey at 336-838-8662 or by email to

Visit the Chamber Website

Wilkes County in Pictures | Wilkes, NC

Take a look at this video provided by Journal Communications about Wilkes County.

Wilkes County in Pictures | Wilkes, NC

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Travel Channel Visits Wilkes County

Terri Parsons, Wilkes Film Commission reports, “The Travel Channel paid a visit to Wilkes County on July 17-19 filming an episode of "Most Adventurous Roads In America."The show featured Dean Combs as the drive around host in a legendary 1960 Chrysler New Yorker owned by Clay Call. The episode includes West Virginia, Wilkes and Dawsonville, Georgia. It will air sometime in November. We will keep you posted on air date once it is scheduled."

Visit Travel Channel Website

Stay Connected with The Wilkes Chamber

Stay connected with the events happening at the Wilkes Chamber, with a look at our July Monthly Mailer. This is a great resource for new businesses in Wilkes County as well community events. Find out more about our BUY LOCAL campaign and see the benefits in action of being a Wilkes Chamber Member. And while you're there take a look at the deals and specials are Chamber Members are offering!

Click Here for July Mailer

If interested in being a Chamber Member, contact Jamie Lakey at 336-838-8662 or by email to,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Take a Moonshine run....." by Peter Cheney

"Take a Moonshine run in North Carolina's bootleg country" is a newspaper article written by Peter Cheney of The Globe and Mail, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is an interview with Junior Johnson as he describes his moonshine and driving history.

Click Here to Read Article

U.S Cellular Hosting Free Workshop!

U.S. Cellular (NYSE: USM) is hosting a free workshop on Tuesday, July 26th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 1714 Winkler Street  in Wilkesboro to guide attendees through all of the features and functions of the company’s Android™-powered, Windows® Phone and BlackBerry® devices that can enhance their lives.

For more information contact:
      U.S. Cellular
      1714 Winkler Street                        
      Wilkesboro, NC  28697

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Job With 90% Placement Rate - Video - WXII The Triad

Are you looking for a new job? Then check out this video posted by WXII12 to find out about this 2 year program offered by Wilkes Community College.

The Job With 90% Placement Rate - Video - WXII The Triad

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Don't Miss the 2011 Shining Soles 5 k Twilight Run

Saturday, October 8, 2011 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Don't miss the Wilkes Chamber 2011 Shining Soles 5k Twilight Run. The 5k will start at Wilkes YMCA Express location of the Yadkin River Greenway and travel through the town of Wilkesboro, down Cub Creek Park and back through Main Street, Wilkesboro, ending back at the Greenway. Registration is only $25, and the 1st 100 will receive a FREE T-shirt!
Registration form located on our website at 

Award Categories:
Top 3 Males & Females Overall
Top 3 Males & Females over 40
Top 3 Males & Females in ages:
14-under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-69, 70+

We also have opportunities for RACE SPONSORS available!!! Sponsors will be featured on T-shirts, receive national web exposure, and other media coverage.

Platinum $ 1,000
Gold: $ 500
Bronze: $250
Friends: $100

For more information, or to become a sponsor, contact Jamie Lakey at 336-838-8662 or by email to

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wilkes Chamber Welcomes New Members for June 2011

The Wilkes Chamber of Commerce would like to welcome our new members for the month of June. Please visit our website directory to find out more information on these and other businesses in Wilkes County. Business Directory Link

Advantage Mini Storage
AFLAC Regional Office - C. Harvey King, DBA
Blue Skies Hypnosis Center
Desi's Floral & Design Studio
Goodman Landscaping Plus
High Country Lumber & Mulch, LLC
Innovative Occasions
Learning Pathway
New 2 U Consignment & Boutique
United Hospice of Wilkes
Wilkes Garage Doors

Thank you new members for supporting the Wilkes Chamber of Commerce! If you are interested in becoming a member or have a general membership question, please email Jamie Lakey at