As late as the mid-90’s, the textile industry was the major employer in Rutherford County. Globalization soon devastated that economy and left Rutherford County with one of the highest unemployment rates in the State of North Carolina.
Planning for an organization that eventually would become Foothills Connect began with a group of forward looking residents of Rutherford County in June of 2004. This core group of community leaders dedicated over 1200 hours of their own time to hold community meetings, write grants and seek funding for an organization that would encourage, develop and support entrepreneurship through the provision of broadband technology.
In September, 2005 the Foothills Connect Business and Technology Center was funded by a $400,000 grant from the State of NC through e-NC Authority.
By October 2005, the first staff members were hired to provide small business entrepreneurial assistance to a number of potential small business owners. A home was found for Foothills Connect in downtown Rutherfordton in the Woodrow Jones Community Center. The Foothills staff quickly converted the center into a public access Internet site and outfitted it as a hot site for wireless access.
By June, 2006, Foothills Connect was fully staffed and began providing technical support to various non-profit entities in the County and recruiting, supporting, grooming and promoting new entrepreneurs in the County.
Since then, the organization has helped introduce Broadband connectivity throughout
Rutherford County, create a network between local farmers and chefs seeking fresh produce in the nearby city of Charlotte, NC through the Farmers Fresh Market Initiative, and most recently set out to instruct aspiring farmers in sustainable, small scale agriculture methodologies to create jobs through farming.