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Winston-Salem Embraces Diversity, Innovation

By Livability on December 9, 2021

Downtown Winston-Salem, N.C.
Downtown Winston-Salem, N.C. / Courtesy City of Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem’s affordability and easy charm have made this midsize city of 250,000 one of the nation’s most popular places to live, with residents enjoying a diversified economy and rich cultural offerings that mirror amenities often found only in much larger urban areas. 

Over the past two decades, Winston-Salem has taken a progressive approach to economic growth while nurturing what makes it unique. 

“We’re a city that has transformed our economy from a manufacturing base to one that is knowledge-based, focused on innovation and entrepreneurship,” explains Mayor Allen Joines. “We embrace the wonderful diversity that sets Winston-Salem apart.” 

An Economic Powerhouse 

Joines notes Winston-Salem uses creativity to drive transformation. 

“I believe firmly that successful cities of the future will be cities that embrace a culture of innovation and rapid change,” he explains. “You have to be able to pivot quickly, and Winston-Salem is poised to do just that.” 

The city has put technical and financial infrastructure in place to support businesses from early stage to market expansion. 

“The city has a very aggressive business assistance program,” Joines says. “We have a goal of creating 50 scalable companies a year.” 

From partnerships with area academic institutions — including Wake Forest University and Winston-Salem State — to the creation of the mixed-use Innovation Quarter and a minority incubator and accelerator, moving the city forward is a collaborative effort. 

Venture Winston Grants is another means to attract innovative companies to Winston-Salem through a competitive grant process. The public-private program utilizes mentoring, physical space and financial support to cultivate early-stage disrupters and move them from startups to success stories. 

“We have a lot of structure in place that allows for the fast flow of talent and information to quickly find assistance for companies at every stage of their growth,” Joines adds. 

Downtown Arts District, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Downtown Arts District, Winston-Salem, N.C. / Courtesy City of Winston-Salem

A Place To Call Home 

Economic growth requires a robust talent pipeline. In addition to the skilled workforce produced by Forsyth Tech and the area’s six colleges, the city is a popular draw for those looking to relocate. 

“Winston-Salem is regularly listed in the top 10 to 20 best places to live in the country,” Joines says proudly. “We have a strong cadre of great restaurants. We have the oldest arts council in the country. There are ample opportunities for individuals to hear the symphony or opera. We have three theaters and numerous art galleries.” 

Enhancing the fun are outstanding parks, recreational facilities and a host of annual festivals. Sports enthusiasts also have plenty to cheer about, whether it’s batter up for the Winston-Salem Dash, fast-paced ACC collegiate action or hair-raising turns at Bowman Gray Stadium, NASCAR’s first and longest running weekly racetrack. 

Joines adds two large integrated health care systems, affordable housing options, proximity to beaches and mountains and an excellent school system make the city attractive to residents at every life stage. 

“The quality of life here is just excellent,” he concludes. 

For business and relocation resources, go to cityofws.org

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