Cooper highlights need for rural broadband in address to General Assembly

WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) — At Vick Family Farms the sweet potatoes are plentiful.

And it’s not just about harvesting the potatoes, it’s also about shipping them out.

The Vicks say 60 percent of the Wilson County farm’s customer base is overseas.

“There are certain markets, certain stores that want a certain size,” said Jerome Vick of Vick Family Farms.

So to help sort the crop by size and quality, this second-generation farm has gone high tech.

They say they agreed to build a new 50,000 square-foot packing facility only after the city of Wilson gave the approval to bring municipal broadband service to the farm.

The Vicks said their old provider, Century Link, just wasn’t cutting it.


“They offer a copper fiber, copper fiber service. We’re on an uninterrupted service now and it means a tremendous amount to our business in order to stay competitive,” said Charlotte Vick.

The Vicks are now caught between the FCC and the state over the expansion of such municipal broadband networks.

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld restrictive laws in North Carolina and Tennessee, which is making it harder for the FCC to support these networks.

Governor Cooper invited Charlotte Vick to Monday night’s “State of the State” address.

“We must do more to help rural businesses and family farms grow. High speed, broadband access is key to their success,” Cooper said.

Charlotte Vick said new equipment helps with growth.

“Our business has doubled in the last two years because of the new equipment that we’ve been able to put in. We’ve been able to ship more product worldwide. So it means a tremendous amount to us,” Charlotte Vick said.

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