[Photo: Thomas McLaurin, a cousin of George Floyd and president of the George Floyd Memorial Center in Raleigh, addresses local officials about a proposal for ‘Dynamic Raeford.’]
By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • A new proposal by members of George Floyd’s family, in partnership with tech training company CyPrep, would offer free computer career training for adults in Hoke County.
Floyd’s cousin Thomas McLaurin, president and CEO of the George Floyd Memorial Center in Raleigh, and CyPrep founder and CEO Brian Thompson addressed local leaders and decision-makers Tuesday about the idea.
“We want to make Raeford, ‘Dynamic Raeford,’” McLaurin said.
The proposal would have CyPrep create classrooms located in Hoke’s public schools to offer free classes to train adults for new careers in technology fields. The training includes education in areas such as 3D design and printing, computer programming, drone piloting, virtual reality or even cybersecurity.
“We’re going to do something that has never been done before,” Thompson said.
The project would set a goal of training 1,000 people to start. The program would take from between three months to a year to complete, depending on which classes a person pursues.
Once adult students are trained and certified, CyPrep’s partnership with an internet technology staffing service would help connect newly certified people with jobs at Fortune 1000 companies such as Microsoft and Amazon.
Many of those jobs are work-from-home or working remotely, offering a way for people to still live in Hoke County, but work for major companies located elsewhere, Thompson said. And those jobs typically range from $40,000 to $80,000 a year, bringing a boost to the local economy through higher salaries.
There are a lot of questions yet to be answered, the presenter acknowledged. The project isn’t funded and the exact cost is unknown. The meeting was to make local officials aware of the George Floyd Memorial Center and CyPrep’s proposal for the project, to check Hoke’s interest in partnering on it.
Thompson proposed to use the momentum and publicity of such an endeavor to seek grant support from companies that are short on qualified tech-capable workers, and even from major sports teams across the country interested in making a difference.
The target audience would be people age 18-35, but due to the pandemic, even people in their 40s and 50s are looking for new careers, Thompson said.
The program could also help bridge the “digital divide,” the presenter said. Numbers show that a large percentage of people in tech careers are white, with African-American women and Native Americans in particular under-represented in those types of jobs.
The proposal is on a tight timeline. After the presentation, Thompson sat down to have further discussions with Hoke’s elected officials. They planned to hold a Zoom call later this week to continue the conversations.
In remarks at the meeting Commission Chairman Harry Southerland touched on Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police last year, which touched off thousands of protests around the world, including marches in Raeford calling for change.
“It’s so important to keep his memory out there,” Southerland said.
The Floyd family, working through the Memorial Center, hopes to move forward and inspire people of all ages to give back to society by making a positive difference in the lives of many, according to the Center.
“What is our mission? Our mission is to move forward past his death,” McLaurin said.
The event held a moment of silence for people killed by police officers, and for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. McLaurin also offered thanks to the community for the support it showed last year when the family held a memorial for Floyd at Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters.
The meeting Tuesday was held at the Robert A. Wright Agriculture Building in Raeford, with Hoke County Sheriff Dr. Hubert Peterkin serving as emcee. Prayers were offered by Colin Pinkney, chaplain for the Charlotte Hornets.