The Town of Benson’s relationship with ElectriCities is much more than power management.
Together, the two organizations have worked on a wide range of projects that continue to flourish — from economic development to education.
On Wednesday, Benson Town Manager Matt Zapp was re-elected to the ElectriCities Board of Directors, a position he has held for three years. Mr. Zapp remains in this role with several other public power administrators from Wilson, Kings Mountain, Gastonia, and Wake Forest, among others.
ElectriCities has 92 public power communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
“I’m honored to be in this position,” said Mr. Zapp on Wednesday, a short time after the ElectriCities meeting. “I’m looking forward to all the great things we can do together.”
Several projects have already formed from Benson’s relationship with ElectriCities. One of the latest endeavors is the Lineworker Pre-Apprentice Program in conjunction with Johnston County Public Schools
This program is designed to assist emerging youth in their efforts to prepare for a career as an electric lineworker.
In a nutshell, high school seniors attend Saturday classes during the school year. Following passage, they enter a 360-hour paid internship with a public power community (Benson among them) and eventually earn a full-ride through a lineworkers program at one of five community colleges in North Carolina.
“This program allows students to begin working right after graduation,” explained Mr. Zapp.
“We saw the need for lineworkers here in Benson and wanted to ensure that we captured the interest of young people who may be considering a career in this field or something similar. We wanted to provide them that open door.”
For its inaugural class, the Lineworker Pre-Apprentice Program saw more than a dozen area high school seniors attend.
In addition to the lineworker program, Mr. Zapp also works closely with the Raleigh-based Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC).
The RTCC is just that — a “cluster” of business, government, academic, and nonprofit leaders focused on accelerating innovation in local communities through the use of cutting-edge “clean” technology — everything from new forms of farming to fully automated electric vehicles.
“I’m so proud that Benson has a seat at the table with all the amazing folks in the RTCC,” said Mr. Zapp. “ElectriCities made this possible and we intend to use this opportunity to guide Benson’s future.”
Mr. Zapp will continue this technological push for Benson early next year, when he chairs the ElectriCities Connections Summit held in Raleigh in February.
“We’re a small town with big dreams and we will continue to grow in a smart and focused way,” said Mr. Zapp. “The future is bright in Benson.”