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WinstonNet booting up the region

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By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — WinstonNet has launched a website designed to plug people throughout Forsyth County into basic resources they need to participate in the new economy.

The site, www.behiveforsyth.org, is one of 25 community sites throughout the U.S. that combine local content with resources provided by The Beehive, a national website that provides low-income people with help and information about money, jobs, school, family and health.

The local site, with versions in English and Spanish, includes a range of resources such as assistance with homework and building a resume.

It is part of a larger “digital-inclusion” strategy at WinstonNet to make the emerging global economy accessible to all citizens and to spur the region’s economic development, says Lynda Goff, executive director.

“We’re really committed to having a literate, digital community,” she says.

In addition to beehiveforsyth.org, she says, WinstonNet also is working to provide affordable wireless access to the Internet and promote computer literacy, and it hopes to help residents get affordable computer hardware in their homes.

Funded with a $40,000 grant from the Cisco Foundation, beehiveforsyth.org represents a partnership with One Economy Corp., a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that has developed The Beehive nationally and in partnership with local communities.

WinstonNet, a collaboration of 10 organizations that was formed in 2001 to spur the growth of community technology in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, also has teamed up with Azulstar Networks, Cisco Systems and IBM to build and operate a wireless community network known as “Wireless Winston” that is expected to cost $6 million to $7 million.

And the group, which operates 44 community computer labs that provide computers, software applications, computer training and links to educational websites, also plans to help get affordable computers into the homes of residents throughout the county.

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