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Governor Roy Cooper tours TechWorks Gaston in Belmont

Oct 24, 2019 11:18AM

NC Gov. Roy Cooper paid a visit last week to the TechWorks business/technology incubator in Belmont. During his tour Gov. Cooper took a minute to talk with these New Hope Elementary students as they learned computer programming. Photo by Alan Hodge

by Alan Hodge

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made a trip to Belmont last week and  toured the TechWorks facility located at 35 Ervin St.

“I have heard how outstanding TechWorks is and wanted to come see it for myself,” Gov. Cooper said. “TechWorks is an amazing opportunity for Gaston County and people here are responding to it in an overwhelmingly positive way.”

During his visit, Gov. Cooper got a look at  TechWork’s innovative space, met with co-working clients, and learned about the Tech Academy offerings. He also watched as the Dream Center’s sixth to eighth grade students were instructed by Sealed Air mechanical engineer Morgan Stewart on how to build a flashlight. Stewart is a volunteer coordinating the K-12 STEM programs for TechWorks and an MIT graduate

In addition, Gov. Cooper observed instructor Deb Alzner, an Information Technology professional with 25 years of programming experience, as she led a class of sixteen fifth grade girls from New Hope Elementary learn how to program a maze game using the Scratch programming language. Students chose a character, designed a maze, programmed their character to move using arrow keys, and programmed what happened when their character accidentally bumped into the maze walls or safely reaches the end. 

“We were very pleased with Gov. Cooper’s visit to TechWorks,” said Terry Cox, executive director Gaston Innovation Group. “It was uplifting and productive. Everyone was very appreciative of Gov. Cooper’s time and his genuine interest in their personal pursuits. It meant a great deal to all of the school kids, and I know it will be a memorable day for many of them.” 

Gov. Cooper  also met with Belmont and Gaston County business and government officials during his time at TechWorks. 

“In the roundtable discussion, Gov. Cooper specifically mentioned our initial visit with him at the Capital in Raleigh, April 2017,” Cox said.  “He  said we were so enthusiastic and passionate that he knew we would do something impressive, even though he didn’t get what that was at the time! On Tuesday, he was finally able to have  clarity and see the finished project accomplished by a very passionate team and incredible supporters.” 

Steven Hannon, TechWorks chairman, had this to say about the event.

"We were excited about Gov. Cooper's visit to TechWorks,” Hannon said. “He has been a supporter of our project from the very beginning when we first met with him and Commerce Secretary Copeland to describe what we are doing to bring Technology, Education and Jobs to Gaston County and our region.  We appreciate his support and intense interest in the success of TechWorks.”

TechWorks was started by the Gaston Innovation Group in 2016. TechWorks is a pioneering non-profit that opened last April with the aim of bringing high paying, sustainable jobs to Gaston County. Funding for TechWorks included $1 million from the N.C. Dept. of Commerce, $1 million from Gaston County, $200,000 from the City of Belmont, as well as funding from several foundations including the Glenn Foundation, David Belk Cannon Foundation, Gaston Community Foundation, Stowe Foundation, and Duke Energy Foundation. 

TechWorks is a model for how an urban-rural county in North Carolina can leverage an adjacent metropolitan center to become a hub for tech innovation and entrepreneurship, stimulate broadband expansion, and help build a talent pipeline for technology jobs.