Downtown Winston-Salem has undergone a major transformation over the past decade. Some might say it's thriving.
Mayor Allen Joines says there's been more than a billion dollars in investment in the city center over the past 15 years. He jokingly calls it Winston-Salem's 20-year overnight success. But he admits there's more work to be done.
WFDD's Keri Brown sat down with Joines to talk about the latest downtown projects and what he sees for the future.
“In five years for instance, we want Winston-Salem to be one of the top 50 metro areas in the country, which means we have to increase the level of job creation here,” says Joines.
“If you look out a little more to the 10 to 15 year window I think you will see Winston-Salem as a city that's growing on entrepreneurship, smaller companies growing and starting here. We won't see as many large corporations here 10 or 15 years from now because the economy is changing that way,” adds Joines.
The city is also looking at partnering with existing businesses and organizations to help jumpstart various accelerator programs for entrepreneurs.
When asked about other economic development projects in the works, Joines says one to keep an eye on is the proposed Brookstown District development around the BB&T baseball stadium. The mixed-use center would include retail and housing.
Another major focal point is the former Whitaker Park site. Earlier this year, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. donated its Whitaker Park campus to Whitaker Park Development Authority Inc. (WPDA), a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation created in April 2011 by Winston-Salem Business Inc., the Winston-Salem Alliance and Wake Forest University.
Joines expects a major tenant announcement for Whitaker Park sometime next year.
But one major game changer for the downtown has been the development of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
"There are hundreds and hundreds of people employed there and revitalization projects like these were made possible by tapping into historic tax credits and other incentives," says Joines.
"We've got a lot of people in the city and community working hard rebuild after we lost a lot of manufacturing and industry. Those investments are now paying off," he adds.
As for managing the growing pains of economic development with more people living downtown and the expansion of the entertainment district, Joines says the city will continue to have conversations with business owners and residents.
He says one recent compromise involved street musicians and the hours of operation. The city made changes recently to its noise ordinance to create some guidelines, especially during late hours.
*Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news