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.