“Why Wilkes,” a marketing campaign on social media launched by the Wilkes Economic Development Corp., makes a strong case for visiting or living in this county.
The initiative is divided into panels with attributes answering the question, “Why Wilkes?”
It touts Wilkes as an ideal location to do business, including for remote workers.
The county’s extensive, countywide fiber optic system provides fast and reliable internet access. Wilkes is rural and scenic but well connected by four-lane U.S. 421, which bisects the county east to west.
The Wilkes County Airport, serving major corporations and Samaritan’s Purse, is another important connectivity factor.
The campaign heralds Wilkes County as the gateway to northwestern North Carolina. This is evidenced by the fact that the state built the Northwest Visitors Center on U.S. 421 just west of Wilkesboro.
It cites the many things Wilkes offers outdoor enthusiasts, including many miles of trails for cyclists, award winning wineries, horseback riding trails, river access for paddling, state parks (Stone Mountain State Park and Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest) and the 1,475-acre W. Kerr Scott Reservoir.
Although not mentioned in the marketing campaign, Wilkes also offers some of the best deer and wild turkey hunting to be found in North Carolina. The county has over 60 miles of trout streams, both native and stocked. Public lands for hunting and fishing include Thurmond Chatham Game Lands in northern Wilkes and portions of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property around W. Kerr Scott Reservoir.
Visitors will find a wide range of choices in lodging and dining, including unexpected accommodations tucked away in the mountains of Wilkes.
The campaign points out that the Wilkesboros are about 20 minutes from Interstate 77 (via U.S. 421), about an hour and a half from Charlotte and about 2 ½ hours from Raleigh.
The Wilkesboros are also about an hour from Winston-Salem, about 40 minutes from Boone and less than two hours from Asheville. Wilkes is within a 45-minute drive from a 245,000 workforce and offers a low cost of living.
With its educational and entertainment opportunities, Wilkes Community College is a quality of life treasure for Wilkes residents and visitors. WCC and Wilkes County School officials work together well to create opportunities for young people and address local workforce needs.
WCC’s MerleFest and a growing array of other live music events and venues, although not during the COVID-19 pandemic, also make the county attractive. In normal times, the towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro offer impressive schedules of live musical performances and other events. Both towns are working hard to attract visitors and encourage people to move here.
Wake Forest Baptist-Wilkes Medical Center, a financially stable, small town hospital providing outstanding care, also ranks high on the list of local attributes. Just this week, the North Wilkesboro hospital opened a 7,000-square-foot Medical Hematology and Oncology Clinic representing a $6 million investment.
It’s always interesting, but it shouldn’t be surprising, to run into people from other states with no prior connections in Wilkes who decided to move here. They often comment on the beauty of the mountains in Wilkes, but they also appreciate that property here is more affordable and winter weather less severe than in more mountainous counties.
A community’s strongest asset should be its people. It’s also not unusual to hear newcomers say they appreciate the accommodating, unpretentious people they have met in Wilkes.