Update: Cat effect building momentum

Supplier summit a key milestone

Much has been made about the effect that the Caterpillar advanced manufacturing facility could have on the local economy. One of the most important benefits resides in Caterpillar’s selection of area suppliers and vendors.

As construction moves along on the new facility, the Cat Supplier Summit (scheduled for June 3) is a critical milestone in realizing the deal’s full economic potential. The event is proof, not just of the company’s commitment, but of the broad-reaching benefits that are the result of close collaboration between business and community.

Education and training programs are coming together quickly via Forsyth Technical Community College, and we are close to seeing the first round of jobs coming into the area from Illinois. However, the expansion of related businesses around Caterpillar could turn the Cat win into an even bigger success story.

The Summit is a chance for local suppliers and vendors in a range of categories to learn what Caterpillar expects, what they look for in partners, and how local companies can rise to the top of the list.

The Summit also seems to be the beginning of an important phase for job seekers. According to an article in the  the Winston-Salem Journal, no jobs have been posted for the new facility in Winston-Salem. However, the article quotes Forsyth Technical Community College president, Gary Green, as saying that the college will begin assessing job seekers in June, with most initial openings at the facility being contract jobs.

More information about the Summit is available via the Winston-Salem Journal website.

Winston-Salem makes another Top 10

Winston-Salem makes another Top 10

Why this list just might matter more than most

Southern Business & Development magazine  has recently named Winston-Salem, NC one of the Top Ten Incredibly Pro-Business Communities — Large and Small — Without a Beach. ( article).

While our community is no stranger to making “10 Best” lists, this particular one may have even more substance to it than you might think.

One reason why this recognition is interesting relates to who nominates communities for consideration and who W-S had to beat in order to make the list.

Who nominates cities for SB&D? Site consultants and business leaders — the very people who make the key decisions in business expansion and relocation. And several of these economic development professionals pointed to Winston-Salem as their pick. In addition, think about the competition here. We’re talking about a region that could arguably be considered, in relative terms, the hottest in the U.S. To make the top ten in this region  should be considered quite a feat.

Another reason for paying closer attention to this list is “why.” Why did W-S make  this list? Winston-Salem makes this short list of pro-business communities for the same reason it wins the attention of so many companies looking to expand or relocate — collaboration. Many other factors are important, but you can argue that most of them are “cost-of-entry”, that is, they get you in the discussion.

However, the difference maker seems to be, over and over again, the way community and business leaders, educational institutions, city and county government organizations all work together.

And, apparently, the right people (and businesses) are noticing.

US Airways to add up to 200 new jobs

Good news for our community from US Airways as they announce the expansion of their Winston-Salem reservation center. The move will add as many as 200 new jobs to the Hanes Mall Boulevard facility. Click the link below for more details.

US Airways to Bring More Jobs to Winston-Salem Reservation Center

The return of optimism?

Will the real economic recovery please stand up?

Several months have passed since the word “recovery” was first uttered in reference to the current economic state. At first no one seemed to be buying it, or buying anything else, for that matter. Then phrases like “double-dip” began to surface more often than Seinfeld reruns. Fast forward through the holidays and the predictable January hangover.

Now that Q1 has passed the midway point, has there been a shift in the glass-half-empty versus half-full conundrum? Have people (business leaders and consumers) simply decided that enough is enough? There seems to be growing optimism related to employment and long-term economic health.

Lets look beyond the recent break in the weather for reasons for this apparent new-found positive outlook.

Several indicators are moving in the right direction

We borrowed a Mar. 8 chart from Money-Rates.com to show how the numbers tend to be inching toward growth. And the new home starts numbers just released are even better. Is it enough to constitute economic elation? Certainly not, but it is good news.

Who cares about the indicators?

At least in part because employment lags behind overall economic growth, consumers are not letting the statistics drive their purchase decisions. What matters to people is the tangible — “do I have a paycheck or not?” The result is a consumer base that is still highly cautious about their spending.

Companies are succeeding right here.

Specifically in Winston-Salem and the surrounding Piedmont Triad region, there are many examples that could be used to cite an economy on the rise. We’ve gone on about Cat (with good reason) but other successes may be even more convincing (with a congrats to Jeff Garstka, former-WSBI VP, and his recent success expanding Lowe’s Companies data center operations in Wilkes County).

Fundamentals are in. Aren’t they?

Is the long road to recovery paved with solid fundamentals? Are companies returning to long-term profitability rather than short-term gains that undermine core value? Are consumers actually choosing to save instead of spending what they don’t have? Do they have a choice?

Okay. That last one was more of a question. What do you think? Is there reason to be cautiously optimistic?


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: