Roanoke Electric wins national award

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 22, 2005

SAN DIEGO, Ca. – In a commemorative ceremony last month, Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) of Rich Square received a distinguished National Community Service Award from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nations more the 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide electric service to more than 37 million people in 47 states.

After traveling to San Diego, California to participate in the event, which took place February 28, REC Executive Vice President and CEO, Curtis Wynn, along with the REC board of directors were honored for the role their organization played in establishing the Roanoke Center.

Serving as an innovative economic development center, the Roanoke Center was developed to help boost the wealth of a five county region listed among the most economically distressed in the state through emphasis on worker training and increased opportunities for small entrepreneurs.

&uot;We’re excited about the impact the Roanoke Center is having in our community,&uot; Wynn said. &uot;We’re already seeing some of the benefits our communities have experienced as a result of the investments the board has made.&uot;

Helping to launch the center, in collaboration with civic, academic, business and government officials, was the Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s non-profit foundation, Roanoke Economic Development, Inc. (REDI), which have helped to fill a gap that existing economic development organizations have not addressed by using a true hands-on approach to strengthening the community by nurturing and offering support to small businesses and non-profit organizations in the area.

&uot;By making a concerted effort to collaborate with successful programs, we are able to avoid duplicating existing activities and create a network of individuals, businesses and organizations that support each other instead of competing against one another,&uot; Wynn said.

Together, REDI and the many agencies that make up the Roanoke Chowan Partners for Progress (RCPP), the Roanoke Center is able to serve as a hub for a network of resources that supports sustainable economic and community development in the region.

Additionally, REDI oversees a regional construction business consortium that encourages larger contractors to include small and underutilized regional businesses in construction project teams.

Last year after completing the renovation of its former administrative building, Roanoke Electric, which serves 13,000 consumers, opened the doors of the Roanoke Center to the community.

&uot;The function of the center is to provide a central location for access to education, government information, technological resources, management services, worker training, and financial resources,&uot; explained Wynn, He described the center as unique among other regional efforts in its emphasis on promoting personal financial literacy; developing skills and opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profit organizations; promoting the use of technology in community and business life; and promoting and advancing the efforts of those agencies actively working to improve schools and communities.

Over 12,000 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation were at the San Diego Convention Center for the NRECA Annual Meeting during which they set the legislative and organizational agenda for the current year, considered and acted upon policy resolutions, had delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, heard addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attended panel sessions on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer-owners.

&uot;It was a very encouraging and educational time,&uot; Wynn said.

NRECA CEO Glenn English and President David Cowan of Pennsylvania presented the National Community Service Award to Wynn, who accepted the honor on behalf of his fellow REC counterparts during a special celebration luncheon.

&uot;We don’t propose to take the credit for all the positive things that are happening in eastern North Carolina,&uot; Wynn said. &uot;We don’t try to do it all, we just try to make it happen. It’s all about helping people reach their goals, that’s what we do.&uot;

The National Community Service Award highlights electric cooperatives that provide exceptional public service to their communities and recognizes and honors creative solutions to a diverse array of economic and social community needs especially activities that strengthen the bond between cooperative electric utilities and their consumer-owners.

Recently, Roanoke Purchasing Group (RPG), an entity of the Roanoke Center, landed a contract with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Research Triangle Park to help establish a Durham Area Buyer-Supplier Network that would facilitate network opportunities and result in bid solicitations from local buyers.

As part of the agreement, GSK has arranged for Wynn to attend a week long Minority Business Executive Program in July at Tuck School of Business in Dartmoth, New Hampshire.

In addition to the contract with the pharmaceutical giant, the center was selected to be a recipient of up to $250,000 in grant money from the Zee Smith Reynolds Foundation to continue its New Choices Program, which seeks to empower &uot;those adults who have been left behind in today’s economy&uot; and helps to match clinical job vacancies in the local healthcare industry and other employment opportunities with training, career counseling, soft skills resources and support services for workers.

&uot;We couldn’t believe it,&uot; said Diana Mitchell, Community Development Director at the Roanoke Center, in regards to receiving the grant.

Having had a proven track record of success with its New Choices program, Mitchell said the center was invited to come aboard for the foundation’s Women Equity Project.

&uot;It was incredible. They basically said, the money is yours, you just have to show us what you’re going to do with it,&uot; she said, adding that the Roanoke Center in currently planning a work force summit with area employers as well as getting a consulting firm from Chapel Hill to conduct focus groups in May with existing New Choices participants.

The center is in its third and final year of grant funding from Duke Endowment for the New Choices program, which means the grant from the Zee Smith Reynolds Foundation will help sustain the existing efforts.

&uot;This came at just the perfect time,&uot; Mitchell said.

She hopes the funds will help the center to expand what they are already doing.

So far, the Roanoke Center has helped secure over $6 million in grant money for area agencies/businesses to foster economic growth and development.

To contact the center for more information on how they can help you, call 252-539-2236.


Board of Directors: (Left to right) Chester Deloatch, Darnell Lee, Thomas Langston, Jonnie Garner, Dave Cowan, Curtis Wynn, Glen English, Carolyn Bradley, Robert &uot;Nat&uot; Riddick, Millard &uot;Mickey&uot; Lee, Allen Speller after receiving the National Community Service Award from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in San Diego, February 28.