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The Education and Research Consortium of the Western Carolinas (ERC) was created in 1997 to put together a plan whereby Western North Carolina (WNC) could participate in and even lead the new technology revolution of the time. Out of this meeting a non-profit organization was created whose board is composed of the presidents/chancellors of Brevard College, Mars Hill College, Montreat College, Western Carolina University, and local businessmen. Also included in the ERC's activities are Furman University in South Carolina, UNC Asheville and the area's community colleges. The ERC's goal is to work cooperatively to bring to WNC and the upstate of South Carolina, as an integrated region, the economic and quality of life benefits new technology offers.

Projects administered by the ERC include:

The Adventure of the American Mind Program (AAM). The AAM Project was designed to train in-service and pre-service classroom teachers and college teacher education faculty to access, use and produce curriculum utilizing the Internet and the digitized primary source materials from the collections of the Library of Congress. Initially, the AAM Project was offered through Brevard College, Mars Hill College and Montreat College in Western North Carolina. In the past seven years it has expanded to cover nine states ([1] AAM Partners).

ERC Broadband (ERC Broadband) works to expand communities throughout Western Carolina through the build-out and expansion of broadband and data storage infrastructure. ERC Broadband actively supports local communities and government with their wide-area networking, as well as expanding community understanding of how to apply technology wisely, leading to expanded economic development opportunities. ERC’s focus is in the areas of government, education, and healthcare. ERC Broadband - as a regional network - offers Internet connectivity, data center services, and is a top tier provider of NEXRAD Level II weather data from the National Weather Service.

Pisgah Forest Institute (PFI) provides environmental instruction for educators. PFI is a cooperative effort between Brevard College, the USDA Forest Service and the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association (CFAIA). PFI operates under the administration of the Appalachian Center for Environmental Solutions (ACES) at Brevard College as part of the ERC.

KCeeI (KCeeI) KCeeI is a new environmental education Institute at Keystone College in LaPlume, PA. It offered its first workshops in July 2004. The program is modeled after the successful Pisgah Forest Institute at Brevard College. KCeeI is committed to enhancing the teaching experience by providing hands-on, inquiry based science and environmental education to educators using nature as a laboratory.

The Digital Media Institute (DMI) DMI began in the Fall of 2002 with the primary objective of retraining displaced workers for today's technology-driven job market. The program is administered through Blue Ridge Community College's Flat Rock campus and is funded through the Department of Labor.

HRSA (HRSA) A tele-health [2] grant through HRSA is funding an initiative to electronically link area health care providers. This project is led by the 14 area hospitals and will result in a system to provide cost-effective, integrated technology services.

ORNL/EERE (ORNL/EERE) The ERC is currently working with UT-Battelle, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to facilitate the development of new energy conservation and efficiency technologies in the Western Carolinas that will support technology transfer in the region.



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