What’s the biggest surprise in Winston-Salem? Part 3

What’s the biggest surprise in Winston-Salem? Part 3




Winston-Salem Skyline

The last of 3 articles discussing our community’s most pleasant surprises.

For this final entry in the “three most pleasant surprises” series, I was inspired by a recent walk through Downtown Winston-Salem. As I passed our local Arts Council offices, the first Arts Council in the nation, I tried to think of what other organizations, companies, brands or innovations started here. I knew there were quite a few, but I did not know that early autumn stroll would yield such a surprisingly long list.

The area is well known for its heyday as a corporate and manufacturing center for tobacco and textiles industries. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company revolutionized production techniques that transformed the industry. The Hanes family name long ago achieved megabrand status worldwide for quality and value. Both companies spawned brands that became (and many still are) household names.

But when you look beyond those two industry giants, you find other brands, companies and technologies that have worked their way into daily life in markets around the world.

Take Krispy Kreme, for example. In 1937, long before Manhattanites lined up around the block for “hot doughnuts now,” Vernon Rudolph punched a hole in the wall of his doughnut bakery to sell fresh, hot, glazed Krispy Kremes to passersby.

A colleague working in Winston-Salem once went on a business trip to Dallas and brought back a bottle of Texas Pete thinking he had snagged an authentic Lone Star State souvenir—only to find that the iconic hot sauce is, and always has been, made right here in the Twin City by Garner Foods.

As for breakthroughs in technology, especially in life science, see the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine where laboratory-grown tissue and organs are developed for use in organ transplants and other therapies for humans.

Forsyth Technical Community College continues to lead the way in revolutionizing workforce training for biotechnology, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing industries.

While the examples above may grab more headlines, Inmar Inc., which began here in 1980 as a coupon company, has become a superstar among any business relying on retail or online transactions. This growing Winston-Salem company now processes a digital coupon every second of every day.

There are more brands, companies and innovative “firsts”—too many to list here, in fact—that started in or around Winston-Salem. Add all of the well-known companies coming into the area like Caterpillar and Herbalife or that have a significant presence like BB&T and Wells Fargo, and you end up with a list of businesses and institutions that never fails to surprise even the most knowledgeable local business leader or economic development professional.

Click these links to read parts 1 and 2 of this series.

What surprises you most about Winston-Salem?

Share your ideas here.

What’s the biggest surprise in Winston-Salem?  Part 2

What’s the biggest surprise in Winston-Salem? Part 2

The second of 3 articles discussing our community’s most pleasant surprises.

While vacationing and visiting family in a few different places around the Eastern U.S. this past summer, the second surprise came to me almost as soon as I got back home to Winston-Salem.

I had an early meeting that was “all the way across town” from my house. And on the mere 15-minute commute that morning, I recalled just how much more difficult the commute would be if I were living anywhere else. Then I started thinking about the other aspects of life in our area that would be different.

And I realized something that I had long forgotten (more like taken for granted) about Winston-Salem, Forsyth County: how wonderfully easy it is to live here.

View of downtown Winston-Salem from Old Salem

While the morning commute provides an obvious contrast to other, larger metro areas, the “easy” factor extends to many other areas that set Winston-Salem apart from just about anywhere else.

For instance, Winston-Salem received a #10 ranking for affordability and fun in a recent Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate report along with the #10 spot in Kiplinger’s annual list of cheapest U.S. cities in which to live.

Of course, a shack in the woods can be an affordable place to live. The amazing part is what Winston-Salem has to offer in terms of amenities, schools and access to other markets, while being an affordable place to live.

People here enjoy a thriving arts community, including various festivals, theater companies and a respectably broad local music scene. A revitalized downtown keeps the streets active while cozy urban and suburban neighborhoods offer a close sense of community and familiarity.

Winston-Salem is an easy place to live. Camel City Carriage ride.
Photo courtesy of Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership.

And since Winston-Salem is so well connected to other cities and markets, it’s easy to get away for business or pleasure. More importantly, it’s even easier and more enjoyable to come home again.

Look for the next surprise in Part 3, coming soon. You can read Part 1 here.

What surprises you about Winston-Salem? Share your ideas here.


What’s the biggest surprise in Winston-Salem? Part 1

What’s the biggest surprise in Winston-Salem? Part 1

The first of 3 articles discussing our community’s most pleasant surprises.

Recently, someone asked me what three facts about Winston-Salem, Forsyth County would surprise people the most. At the time, I found it difficult to narrow it down to just three. But, after considering several possibilities, I’ve come up with three things that have truly surprised me over the past year. All in a good way.

In this post, I’d like to share a few facts about our much-heralded Forsyth Technical Community College (FTCC). Now, I’ve “known” these facts for a while. However, it wasn’t until FTCC opened its 122,500 square foot Transportation Technology Center earlier this year that I actually did the math and realized something staggering.

Forsyth Technical Community College
Winston-Salem, NC

Well, here’s the surprise. And it relates to just how far this institution reaches into the community to impact local workforce quality:

FTCC occupies 1,171,431 square feet of building space across 11 different locations, from the main campus in Winston-Salem to Kernersville, Walnut Cove and Danbury. From fall 2010 through summer 2011, FTCC served 12,873 students earning credit toward their degree, graduating 1,414, and trained more than 25,000 workforce development students.

Naturally, you’ve read articles about the college’s role in developing state-of-the-industry training programs to fuel economic growth in the region. You’ve also heard of the college’s leadership position in life sciences, biotechnology and nanotechnology. In fact, Forsyth Tech, as the locals are fond of calling it, has the only degreed community college nanotechnology program in North Carolina.

But, that’s no surprise. After all, the success of Forsyth Tech’s programs has attracted much attention, including visits from the last two U.S. Presidents. Still, most people outside of our community think of FTCC as being a nice little story about a nice little community college.

FTCC is not just a nice little story. It is a huge story that demonstrates just how well positioned this area is for economic development and growth in a wide range of industries. With this degree of training and educational resources on tap, look for plenty more surprises to come from Winston-Salem, Forsyth County.

The next surprise? Check back here soon for part 2.

What surprises you about Winston-Salem? Share your ideas below.


Industries that Love Winston-Salem, and Why: Part 4

Industries that Love Winston-Salem, and Why: Part 4

In economic development, individual regions tend to focus their efforts on specific industries. In this series of posts, we’re examining why several individual industries have focused their expansion efforts, ultimately, in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County. 

Financial Services

Mention the financial services industry in some circles and the reaction could be quite strong. Even in Winston-Salem we have endured the uncertainty associated with the struggles of a major banking institution. However, that uncertainty has only served to demonstrate the area’s steadfast presence in the industry. As the dust clears and optimism slowly gains, a quick look around the banking landscape reveals a thriving array of financial organizations.

How is this possible? What makes W-S such a positive environment for banking? Here are few possible reasons. (more…)

The WS Business App is now available for Android

The WS Business App is now available for Android

We are pleased to announce that the WS Business App is now available for Android devices.

Designed for site consultants, economic development and real estate professionals, the FREE WS Business mobile app puts Winston-Salem and Forsyth County NC in the palm of your hand.

Winston-Salem Economic Development App for Android



Download it here for FREE

The WS Business app is your mobile resource for news and information about doing business in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, NC. The WSBI mobile app allows you to:

  • Get updates on economic development news and events in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County
  • View available buildings and sites for your business along with maps and an overview of each site
  • Get an inside look at Life in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County
  • Stay connected with WSBI via Twitter and other social media platforms

Developed on the MobileClik app creation platform of Winston-Salem-based technology firm VerticalCurve, WS Business is also available for iOS devices on the App Store.