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Roanoke-Chowan Partners for Progress 2: Coming Together to Improve the Quality of Life

Roanoke-Chowan Partners for Progress 2 (RCPP2) held its quarterly meeting on Friday, March 13, 2015, at Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC).

Marshall Cherry, Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Roanoke Electric, opened the meeting by greeting the attendees.  The RCCP2 is a collaborative effort among REC’s non-profit organization, The Roanoke Center (TRC), and other agencies to coordinate economic development efforts of nonprofits, local governments, and the private sector to produce a growing local economy.  Many of their meetings feature presenters representing agencies that highlight.

The first presenter was Kim Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Roanoke-Chowan Community Health Center (RCCHC).  Schwartz began her remarks by giving some background on the RCCHC, such as it serves four different locations- Ahoskie, Murfreesboro, Colerain and a school-based center at Hertford County Middle School.  The RCCHC is also the first and only community health center that has partnered with a school of dental medicine – East Carolina School of Dental Medicine.

“We are a federally qualified health center with huge needs and many standards we must meet,” said Schwartz.  “One challenge of primary health care today is young people who think they don’t need preventive medicine, and they don’t get annual physical exams.”

THE RCCHC is proud of its reach in the local communities. RCCHC goes to churches, has a mobile food bank and mobile clinic paired together.

To meet the needs of even more community members, RCCHC opened a migrant/seasonal farm health center, where a doctor goes out in the field starting at 8:00 a.m.  and on Sundays.

The Ahoskie office has an in-house pharmacy.  Other services offered include pediatricians, a nutritionist on-site, and the Hertford Health Maintenance Alliance  -- a specialty network.

“Through generous donations, we have access to medications we can get for free. We also do medication assistance,” said Schwartz. 

The second presenter was Lewis Hoggard, Manager of the NC Works Career Center for Hertford County, on the Roanoke-Chowan Community College campus. Hoggard shared remarks about how the Career Center is changing lives and putting people back to work, changing lives in the process. 

“We are not the unemployment office. Career centers put people to work, help develop the community’s economic well-being, and the area’s citizens,” said Hoggard. 

The Career Center has partners it works with, such as the Title V for workers 55 years and older, and Division of Workforce Solutions (DWS). 

 “The Career Center focuses on ‘on-the-job’ training.  Some requirements are the job must be full-time, the individual must learn a new skill, there must be a documented future demand, and must have supervision.  If the contract does not work out, that’s where my job and Workforce Investment Act come in. We’re concentrating right now on getting people to work, particularly on on-the-job training contracts.”

The final presenter was Amy Braswell, Executive Vice President of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce.  Braswell told attendees about the chamber and its goals for the future.

“The chamber’s goals include infrastructure and helping provide a skilled workforce,” said Braswell. 

“We developed a plan -- pillars of growth for this community. The theme for 2015 is partnership. The pillars are transportation, education, industry, and quality of life.” 

Braswell believes that in transportation, improvements in infrastructure are needed to draw businesses. In education, educational systems should be solidified and linked from early education through college. Providing a skilled workforce is important for industry.

“So, the chamber took on these projects trying to remind people what they’re passionate about and believe that we can do better than we’re doing, and we are,” said Braswell. 

 “One of the chamber’s most important partnerships is our affiliation with eighteen other chambers of commerce. We speak with one voice from our region.” 

Braswell also discussed northeastern North Carolina’s designation as a Tier One region.

“This is an area on political maps where they consider nothing is going on. We decided at CONE (Chambers of the Northeast) to make sure they understand that time is over.  We are in an exciting period of growth in Ahoskie right now. ”

Braswell referred to new restaurants, grocery stores, and people moving here from different states. Ahoskie is even being considered now as a retirement destination.  

 “Our success depends on all of us participating together.”  

REC is an electric utility providing service to 14,500 people in northeastern North Carolina.  TRC supports REC’s effort to enhance quality of life in the diverse communities it serves.  To learn more about the RCPP2, please visit 

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