Blue Cross Blue Shield to invest $16 million in Piedmont Triad Research Park

By Richard Craver
Published: February 21, 2011

Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. said today it will make a $16 million investment in one of the largest, if not the largest, economic-development projects in downtown history.

The investment, made over three years, will be spent on Building 91, a former manufacturing facility near the corner of Fifth Street and Patterson Avenue that was donated to Piedmont Triad Research Park by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The building has been renamed Wake Forest BioTech Place. It will offer 242,000 square feet of space for laboratories, offices and other uses, primarily for operations that Wake Forest University Health Sciences is transferring from its Hawthorne campus.

The Blue Cross investment will come through the N.C. Mill Rehabilitation Tax Credits program. It is the insurer’s first major investment involving the program, spokeswoman Stephanie Skordas said. She said that the investment could vary depending on the cost of bringing the building back into use.

It’s a cash investment only. Skordas said that Blue Cross has no plans to move operations into the building. It has more than 600 employees in a customer-service and claims-administration operation at Madison Park in northwest Winston-Salem.

Last June, park officials reached an agreement with Wexford Science and Technology LLC of Baltimore on an $87 million project for the North District – the biggest announcement regarding the park since plans for it surfaced in 1994.

Renovations have been taking place for months in the building units. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

Officials at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, which is landlocked on its main campus, have longed for years for expansion space for its research departments.

About 350 employees will work there – a 38 percent increase in the park’s work force, to 1,275. Wake Forest Baptist plans to occupy 85 percent of the space.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has a 77-year tradition of investing in the health of North Carolinians,” Brad Wilson, the insurer’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“We are pleased to continue that tradition with this investment, which creates new medical research labs from historic tobacco warehouses. You could say we’re preserving the past while creating a new future for this part of the Triad.”

Doug Edgeton, the president of the park, said that the tax credit “is a very effective tool for sustainable redevelopment and provides tremendous benefits to the local economy.”

“This investment by Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. will enable us to preserve a former manufacturing area in the heart of downtown Winston Salem,” Edgeton said.


Announced: $16 million Investment in Piedmont Triad Research Park

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. is making a $16-million investment in Wake Forest BioTech Place, a former manufacturing facility near the corner of Fifth Street and Patterson Avenue in downtown Winston-Salem.  For the full article from the Winston-Salem Journal click here:

Gov. Perdue Vetoes Senate Bill 13

Gov. Bev Perdue today vetoed Senate Bill 13, her first veto of the legislative session and only the second of her administration. The bill, widely criticized as harmful to the state’s efforts to attract businesses and grow jobs, was vetoed this afternoon at the Capitol.

Here’s Gov. Perdue’s statement:

“This bill started out as a way to help North Carolina secure $400 million in additional savings from state government agencies during this difficult budget time,” said Gov. Perdue. “I suggested that bill to the General Assembly and was ready to sign that legislation. But the bill in its current form forces a one-time cash-grab from funds that are intended to create jobs and spur economic development. That’s not the right move for North Carolina, where jobs simply must be our No. 1 priority.”

Forsyth Tech is mentioned twice in State of the Union Address

Last night, Forsyth Technical Community College student Kathy Proctor attended the State of the Union address as a guest of the White House.  President Obama then mentioned Forsyth Tech two times during the speech. This is great exposure for our community and Forsyth Tech as her story has created buzz nationwide.  Here is an article from the Winston-Salem Journal.

UNCSA Named to Kiplinger’s “Best Values in Public Colleges”

And Takes Top Honors in “Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio” Category

WINSTON-SALEM – For the second year in a row, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has been ranked among Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges. In addition, UNCSA again took top honors in the “lowest student-faculty ratio” category.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine announced the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges today, ranking four-year institutions “that deliver a stellar education at an affordable price.”  The annual rankings appear in Kiplinger’s February 2011 issue, on newsstands today, and online at

UNCSA ranked 48th this year, breaking into the nation’s top 50 and up from 61st last year.

For the second year in a row, Kiplinger’s reported that: “The University of North Carolina School of the Arts earns top honors in the student-faculty category, with a ratio of 8-1.” 

Other UNC system schools making the Kiplinger’s list of best values were UNC-Chapel Hill, 1st; N.C. State, 15th; UNC-Wilmington, 27th; Appalachian State University, 35th; and UNC-Asheville, 58th.

Kiplinger’s reports that it bases its rankings “on a combination of academics and affordability. We start with data from more than 500 public four-year schools, provided by Peterson’s/Nelnet, then add our own reporting. We narrow the list to about 120 schools based on measures of academic quality — including SAT or ACT scores, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, and four- and six-year graduation rates, which most schools reported for the class that entered in 2003. We then rank each school based on cost and financial aid. In our scoring system, academic quality carries more weight than costs (almost two-thirds of the total).”

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. UNCSA is located at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. For more information, visit