WSBI Annual Meeting speaker Mike Randle video interview available

WSBI Annual Meeting speaker Mike Randle video interview available

Mike Randle, publisher of Southern Business and Development magazine, recently spoke at the Winston-Salem Business Inc. Annual Meeting.  His perspective on economic development in the South was well-received by those in attendance and we were fortunate to be able to interview him for our blog.

We have made several video clips of our interview with Mike Randle available for viewing on our YouTube channel.  You can see all of them here.

In the segment below, Mike Randle discusses the growth in manufacturing jobs in the South:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzISKvFWD1A&w=640&h=360]

For more of our interview with Mike Randle, click this link.

Industries that Love Winston-Salem, and Why: Part 2

Industries that Love Winston-Salem, and Why: Part 2

Advanced Manufacturing is building in Winston-Salem.

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

Advanced Manufacturing

Is it fair to say that manufacturing in the U.S. is making a huge comeback? Perhaps, especially when you look at the kinds of manufacturing facilities that are developing. The key word in all of this is “advanced.” And Winston-Salem, Forsyth County is drawing more attention lately from companies in this sector. What makes this area appealing to the Caterpillar’s of the world? Here are three ideas.

Access to Markets

Location almost always comes first. In advanced manufacturing, this is particularly important. The Southeast U.S. is experiencing a bit of a manufacturing Renaissance as companies realize the value of expanding in this region. Standing out within the Southeast can present a bit of a challenge. But here’s where Winston-Salem, Forsyth County scores high marks. It’s more than location. It’s the relatively easy access to other markets that puts the city on so many short lists. With excellent options for transportation and shipping, including a FedEx hub close by, much of the world’s markets are within reach. In fact, more than half the U.S. population lives within 600 miles of Winston-Salem.

Workforce Quality

Like much of the South, manufacturing runs deep in the area. The difference for many is the level of quality associated with our manufacturing tradition. Textiles and furniture industries may not be the staples they once were, but the skilled workforce that characterized those industries remains. Companies that choose Winston-Salem develop a quick appreciation for the dedication to craftsmanship that permeates the workforce.

Less Haste. More Speed.

Frenetic could never describe life in Winston-Salem. The easy-going nature of people here is disarming, to be sure, but make no mistake: business here moves with purpose and pace. As manufacturing processes continue to become more innovative and technical, company leaders continue to marvel at how quickly their operations can get up to speed in Winston-Salem. One executive visiting Forsyth Technical Community College (FTCC) was shocked (and delighted) to find that the framework for training their workers was mapped out before he had finished his campus tour.

Other qualities come into play, of course, for individual companies. But when you combine workforce quality with easy access to major markets, then get operations up and running to a high standard on time or ahead of schedule — you end up with a formula for attracting the attention of advanced manufacturing companies around the world.

What other industries are looking our way? We’ll continue in Part 3.

Industries that Love Winston-Salem, and Why: Part 1

Industries that Love Winston-Salem, and Why: Part 1

Life Science and Biotech thrive in W-S. Here’s why

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

Life Sciences and Biotechnology

With the steady growth of life sciences and biotechnology-related businesses, one might assume that any community has a legitimate shot at being the location of choice for one of these forward-thinking companies. In reality, there are key elements that tend to make certain locations stand out over others.

In the case of Winston-Salem, some of those elements revolve around where and how innovation tends to happen. For instance…

Academic chops

It’s fun when the hometown college has a great football team. But real academic quality tends to be the main attraction for big brains, big ideas and big business. More importantly, quality of academics has to extend beyond ivy-covered walls to state institutions and community colleges. And it’s not something that happens over night. For generations Winston-Salem has nurtured its universities and colleges as they have grown into regionally, nationally and in some cases globally recognized academic and research institutions.

Dedicated environment

Any community can throw the words “research park” in front of an office park and claim they have the perfect place for science or tech-related businesses. In truth, the research parks that succeed are developed with purpose in mind. Particularly for life science and biotech, parks must be designed and created with innovation and collaboration in mind. Piedmont Triad Research Park in downtown Winston-Salem is an urban campus based on those exact objectives with a hearty technology backbone and community-wide support.

Innovation street cred

Businesses and institutions want to be where innovation tends to happen, perhaps because they see it as a sign that an area is conducive to creativity and collaboration. Successful breakthroughs in regenerative medicine, nanotechnology, along with innovative programs in biotechnology have earned Winston-Salem a well-deserved reputation for a culture of creativity.

Naturally, other attributes play significant roles in the decision to start-up, expand or relocated here. But it is the community’s understanding of and commitment to creativity and innovation that companies love.

What factors make other industries’ hearts beat faster? We’ll dive into another industry in Part 2.

Why Big Business and Industry Are Heading South

Gray Construction, the firm that is building the Caterpillar plant in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County recently published an article in its newsletter entitled Why Big Business and Industry are Heading South that we think is worth reading. Winston-Salem, the new Caterpillar facility and our particular strength in Workforce Development are discussed (on pages 5 and 7).

To access the article (which we recommend) please visit this link and click on the first link for a PDF of the newsletter.