Winston-Salem "State Of The Community" Finds Growth Opportunities, Obstacles
Winston-Salem civic leaders gathered Wednesday for the first annual “state of the community” discussion. The event is an effort to make the city one of the top 50 metro areas for job creation by the end of the decade.That would be a leap of about 100 spaces up the job creation list. Mayor Allen Joines says the focus for the next five years will be on three sectors.
“The Whitaker Park development which was a wonderful donation of buildings and land by Reynolds Tobacco that we think will create several thousand jobs; the Innovation Quarter which is our research park, which has great opportunities; and then overall just creating an entrepreneurial culture that will help individuals start companies and high-growth companies and grow here,” he says.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Beverly Emory was among the speakers. She says her goals for the next few years include boosting graduation rates and the number of third-grade students who can read on grade level.
For that to happen, though, the city must address poverty, she says. The rate is above 20 percent in the city, and Emory says that makes it hard for many students to achieve.
“If I look at our schools and look at the data, I can cover up the names, and I can look at where we have the highest free-and-reduced lunch rates in our community is where we have the poorest performance,” Emory says.
To reach the goal of making the top 50 in job creation, the city would have to make 7,500 jobs above the projected job growth for the next half-decade.