August 14, 2008

City a Model of Intelligent Design


WINSTON-SALEM -- The city's move away from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy appears to be a smart one.

Winston-Salem, once the king of tobacco, received a new moniker in 2008 : "Intelligent Community."

The city was one of seven communities worldwide recognized as a model for economic development in the 21st century. The title is bestowed annually by the Intelligent Community Forum, a New York- based think tank that focuses on job creation and economic development in today's broadband economy.

Winston-Salem's evolution started more than a decade ago and will continue for some time, officials say.

"We're certainly not turning our back on our past," said Mayor Allen Joines , "but looking to the future to make sure that our economy remains healthy and viable and that we can create the jobs our citizens need."

Moving the city forward includes sprucing up Winston-Salem's core.

On one side of downtown you've got a new $22.6 million baseball park expected to open in 2009. On the other end, a research park that has grown from 12 acres to 220 acres .

And in between, more people making downtown their home.

Housing, including rental units, is expected to more than double from 858 units to about 1,700 based on projects under construction and proposed, according to the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership .

The nonprofit group is working to fill in any open retail spaces left in downtown, and president Jason Thiel hopes to add more entertainment venues, such as theaters.

"We're in this for the long haul," Thiel said. "So we're looking to make slow, gradual, sustainable, positive steps toward building downtown, one investment at a time."

Both the stadium and research park areas, which anchor two ends of downtown, will include retail, restaurants and living space.

Work being done at the research park, much of it in the medical and biomedical fields, helped propel Winston-Salem to become one of the seven "Intelligent Communities."

The Piedmont Triad Research Park is expected to draw 30,000 new jobs over the next 20 to 25 years .

So far, 20 companies employ about 1,000 people at the park. That includes the Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a soldier institute, both of which are researching how to grow new body parts.

"Some of the most cutting-edge research in the country is going on there," Joines said.

Contact Jennifer Fernandezat 373-7064 or [email protected]

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