North Carolina Entrepreneur Wins Encore Social Innovation Award From HP

Hewlett Packard Honors Social Entrepreneur Tim Will for His Use of Technology to Advance Social Change
News Release - For Immediate Release -
For more information, contact:
Jennifer Coate, 415-222-7490

SAN FRANCISCO – Just minutes after receiving The Purpose Prize, a $100,000 award for social innovators in their encore careers, Tim Will was surprised to be asked to return to the stage.

Once there, Michael Mendenhall, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at HP, presented Will with the Encore Social Innovation Award for using technology to advance social change.

The new award will bring $50,000 of HP equipment to rural North Carolina to advance Will’s innovative work with the Foothills Connect Business & Technology Center.

In the past several years, Will has been instrumental in resurrecting a devastated Appalachian economy by first raising money to bring broadband access to the community, then using the technology to create an online ordering system connecting restaurant owners to local farmers. Now laid-off factory workers have returned to farming, growing heirloom tomatoes, shitake mushrooms and other specialty crops for chefs in Charlotte’s high-end restaurants.

Will, 61, a former telecommunications systems analyst, spent much of his midlife career introducing complex technological innovations in the Caribbean and South America. He has also worked as a public school teacher. He moved to Rutherfordton, North Carolina, in 2006, selecting the area for its scenic beauty. Soon afterward, he took a job working for Foothills Connect.

“I’m beyond thrilled with HP’s generosity,” Will said. “This equipment will go a long way in helping us build a thriving, modern economy here in Appalachia. More than that, it brings hope to people who lost everything when textile and furniture manufacturing moved elsewhere.”

In the next year, Will hopes to expand his efforts statewide.

The award was given in honor of Richard Hackborn's retirement. Hackborn led efforts to build HP’s printer business and served the company for more than 30 years.

“Tim Will demonstrates the power of initiative, innovation and technology to change lives,” said HP’s Mendenhall. “And he did it all after he finished his midlife career. That’s a modern message we’re proud to endorse.”

About Civic Ventures (
Civic Ventures is a national think tank on boomers, work and social purpose.

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HP creates new possibilities for technology to have a meaningful impact on people, businesses, governments and society. The world’s largest technology company, HP brings together a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure to solve customer problems.