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.