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.
Back in 2010, a somewhat surprising accolade was bestowed upon Winston-Salem in a specific, highly competitive industry—data management. The city earned the number four spot out of 45 metropolitan areas nationwide for cost-effective operation of data centers in a survey by Boyd Co. of Princeton, NJ. But if you dig into the details a little, you find that Winston-Salem’s allure for the data industry actually makes perfect sense.
Data management is one of those crossover industries that touch virtually every other sector. However, there are specific industries where data has been a vital part of daily business for quite some time. Two of those industries are financial services and healthcare. Think of the sophistication it takes to manage, process and protect individual banking transactions and patient medical data. When you consider Winston-Salem’s enduring history and thriving relationships with these industries, the data story seems like a natural fit for the area.
Companies across a wide range of industries have entered the area and ended up being overwhelmed by the quality of the workforce in Winston-Salem and the surrounding Triad. In many ways, the more technologically advanced their business is, the more impressed these company leaders are by the ability of area workers to get up to speed in a hurry. That’s a big deal for data centers where companies cannot afford any slip in performance or security.
Naturally, the availability of a quality workforce suggests there is either something in the water that enhances the minds of area workers, or that there are institutions in place here that do an excellent job of training and retraining people. We’ve gone on elsewhere in this blog about the success of Forsyth Technical Community College, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem Sate University and other area institutions at developing area talent. So, we’ll just say that having these high-end institutions adds to the attraction for companies looking for new data center locations.
The ultimate proof of Winston-Salem’s value to the data management industry is in the companies that have established data centers here. Lowe’s Cos., Data Chambers LLC, Wells Fargo and other institutions have chosen to establish data centers in Winston-Salem. And more could be on the way.
As they say, the data doesn’t lie.
What other industries find Winston-Salem irresistible? More to come in Part 4.