1000 x 90

5th Annual Vision Northwest North Carolina Takes Place Thursday, May 23: AI & Technology Solutions for Northwest NC

The 5th annual Vision Northwest North Carolina summit will take place Thursday, May 23, 2024, at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute’s Watauga Campus in Boone. This year’s event is focused on AI and Technology Solutions for Northwest North Carolina.

Vision Northwest North Carolina brings together thought leaders from across the region to discuss current economic development trends impacting businesses, agencies, and communities. This year’s event features expert speakers and presenters, bringing thoughtful conversation and best practices to how AI and technology can be used for good throughout the region. Our keynotes and breakouts are designed to feature emerging trends and attainable best practices that can help your business find success through efficiency.

The event is organized by a regional partnership that includes the Boone Area, Blowing Rock, Alleghany, and Ashe County Chambers of Commerce, Watauga County Economic Development Commission, Appalachian State University Career Development Center, High Country Council of Governments, High Country Workforce Development Board, and Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.


In-Person Ticket ($95) – Includes event materials, networking opportunities, breakfast, lunch, post-event reception, and recordings of all sessions.

Agenda at a Glance

8:00-9:00AM  | Registration, Breakfast & Networking – 
Provided by Beech Mountain Resort & LifeStore Bank

9:00-9:15AM | Welcome to Vision Northwest North Carolina

9:15-10:30AM | Morning Keynote Session – Sponsored by

Carolina West Wireless

Keynote Presenter: Zach Giglio, GCM

Crafting an AI-Native Business: Essential Skills for the New Frontier
We’ll identify the skills that are becoming increasingly important across all roles due to the influence of AI and how businesses can adjust their hiring practices to incorporate these essential skills. We’ll then guide professionals on how to enhance their own skill sets to become more effective and attractive to employers in this new work environment. Finally, we’ll demonstrate how taking these steps enables small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to reap the benefits of implementing AI, such as increased innovation and better performance. 

10:30-10:45AM | 
Break & Networking – Sponsored by DMJPS

10:45-Noon | Morning Breakout Sessions
 – Sponsored by First Horizon

  • The Impact of AI & Technology on Workforce Readiness – As we consider the impact of AI and technology on the modern workplace, how do we ensure staff are trained to fully harness these new tools? Hear from local education and workforce leaders about how technical adaptation and skill development is being prioritized in the classroom and on the job site.

    – Lane Freeman, Director of Online Learning, NC Community College System 
    – Rick Shew, Associate Dean Business & Career Services, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute
    – Lucas Underwood, Owner, L&N Performance Automotive Repair 

  • Is it Time for a CTO? – Who knows how this stuff works? It’s often the last question asked by managers who order new gear without thinking about who maintains the new investment. As your business adapts to today’s trends, are you building a culture of technical knowledge and compliance within your operation? 


     Gary Daemer, President, Infusion Points
    – Tanner Greer, Sr. Vice President/Chief Technical Officer, Blue Ridge Energy 

  • Technology Wins in Northwest North Carolina – Many businesses and agencies are already winning with AI and other technology advancements. Hear success stories from within our region and learn about how your next project can gain motivation from the work of peer businesses in Northwest North Carolina.  

    – Caroline Catoe, President, ECRS 
    – Greg Coplin, Director of Information Technology, Catawba Valley Health System 

Noon-12:45 | Lunch & Networking

12:45 – 2:00PM | Afternoon Keynote Session – Sponsored by


Keynote Presenter: Cyrus Hurley, Chief Executive Officer, Zuryc

The Impact of AI: From Resumes to Revolutions

There are many practical uses for AI that can positively impact businesses, but the bad guys have AI too. We’ll dive into some of the everyday processes and tools that can make businesses more efficient and free employees for expanded tasks. We’ll also discuss cybersecurity and other threats, and how to make sure your policies and practices are limiting your risk for business disruption. 

2:00-2:20PM | Break & Networking – Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield

2:20-3:45PM | Afternoon Breakout Sessions – Sponsored by First Horizon

  • Ethical Concerns of AI – We know that AI and technology can provide many positive benefits, but how do we avoid crossing the line? Learn how businesses and leaders can remain authentic as you strive for improvement. 

    – Kelli Burgin, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity, Montreat College
    – Meghan Wills, Assistant General Counsil, Appalachian State University 

  • Today’s Tools for Tomorrow’s Workforce – You don’t have to leave Northwest North Carolina to find companies that are developing the next round of revolutionary tools. See examples of technical innovation from our own backyard, and learn how businesses are solving for tomorrow’s challenges.

    – Mike Gaddy, Sales Manager, Technology Division, WJ Office 
    – Dianna Hudson, National Technology Consultant, Automated Systems Designs, Inc 

  • Improving Business & Empowering Employees with AI – While AI and technology have their benefits, many businesses are still trying to understand the potential impact on their bottom line. Hear how local businesses are enhancing profit and retaining talent by implementing these new strategies.

    – Chris Beckwith-Taylor, Founder/Chief Strategist, GREENstick

3:45-5:15PM | Networking Reception