The Latest On What's Happening With The Chamber & Our Members


Winston-Salem Named 7th Best City to Drive In

This year, Winston-Salem is ranked as the 7th Best City to Drive In based on a recent study of the 100 largest U.S. cities conducted by WalletHub.com — a leading personal finance outlet.

To determine the most driver-friendly places in the U.S., WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 largest cities across 25 key metrics. The data set ranges from average gas prices to average annual hours of traffic delays to auto-repair shops per capita.

Driving in Winston-Salem (1=Best; 50=Avg.):

* 7th – Avg. Annual Hours of Traffic Delays
* 16th – Accident Likelihood in City vs. National Avg.
* 28th – Avg. Gas Prices
* 35th – Auto-Maintenance Costs
* 1st – Avg. Parking Rates
* 2nd – Avg. Annual Car Insurance Rate
* 24th – Avg. Commute Time
* 9th – Quality of Roads

You can find the full study here: //wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-to-drive-in/13964/.

Trip Advisor Honors PHC Hotel In Winston-Salem

Paragon Hotel Co.’s DoubleTree by Hilton – Winston-Salem University hotel has chalked up more than 350 guest reviews—more than 90 percent of them lauding the hotel with ratings of “very good” and higher—to earn a TripAdvisor 2017 Certificate of Excellence Award.

“Founded in 2010, the Certificate of Excellence honors hospitality businesses that deliver consistently great service,” says TripAdvisor, billed as the world’s largest travel community with 96 million members and 390 million monthly visitors to its website, which includes a half-billion reviews and opinions.

To earn a TripAdvisor’s coveted global designation, an establishment must: maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five stars; have a minimum number of reviews; and have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

This year alone, among the hundreds of guest opinions posted on TripAdvisor, the PHC hotel, located at 5790 University Pkwy. in Winston-Salem, earned such guest reviews as:

“Excellent Hotel: This hotel is the by far the best hotel we have stayed at in all of our travels for soccer tournaments. The staff was extremely nice and accommodating. The rooms were very clean. I would recommend this particular DoubleTree Hotel to anyone staying in the Winston-Salem area.”

“Amazing: Amazing place to stay, staff is friendly, nice, courteous. Very helpful & the cookies are the bomb. Plenty on stock. Provided us with a room to hang out in for our club. Breakfast buffet was delicious.”

“Time and again,” says Mitesh Patel, president of the Anderson, S.C.-based hospitality company, “the Paragon Hotel Co. team at Winston-Salem proves that five-star service earns five-star reviews. Under General Manager Joshua Rubio’s leadership, consistent dedication to our guests is baked in—even in our cookies.”

The hotel, with a three-of-five star hotel industry classification, offers such amenities as Wi-Fi, a pool, breakfast buffet, restaurant, bar, fitness center, and more, in addition to the complimentary cookies.

PHC owns and manages properties comprising more than 2,100 rooms in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. The company aims to be the preferred hospitality-management company that earns the loyalty of its customers, team members, and investors. In addition to IHG franchises, PHC’s portfolio includes hotels within Hilton Worldwide, Marriott, Choice Hotels International, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Best Western, and Wyndham Worldwide franchises.

Money Magazine: WSSU one of Best Colleges in South

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) ranks as one of the Best Colleges in the South, according to rankings released by Money Magazine on Monday, July 10.

WSSU is one of only two historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) on the list, at no. 42. According to the magazine, those ranked “notched the best combination of educational quality, affordability and hi-earning alumni in the South.” For the rankings, Money Magazine factors in the university’s performance after subtracting the impact of the average student’s test scores and percentage of low-income students, focusing on universities that propel low-income students into upper middle class.

Also, Money Magazine ranks WSSU no. 2 in North Carolina for nursing and education degrees.

This is one of several recent rankings that recognize WSSU’s success elevating the social and economic well-being of its graduates. In February, CollegeNET named WSSU a “Social Mobility Innovator.”

>>Click here for more WSSU Points of Pride

 
A bold past. A brilliant future.
For 125 years, Winston-Salem State University has fostered the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. Join us in celebrating our 125th anniversary with events throughout 2017. Learn more at the 125th Anniversary website.

Wire Transfer Fraud: Red Flags and Best Practices for Winston-Salem Businesses

For many Winston-Salem businesses, sending or receiving money via wire transfer is a common occurrence. Wire transfer is a method of moving money electronically that is fast, relatively inexpensive, unrestrained by geography, and results in the availability of funds within hours after confirmation of the transaction. Use of wire transfers in business is routine worldwide; in 2016, the Fedwire Funds Service – a wire transfer system operated by the United States Federal Reserve Banks – reported approximately 148 million wire transfers valued at over 766 trillion dollars system-wide.

Traditionally, wire transfers were considered secure as well. However, in recent years, the proliferation of wire fraud has cast some doubt on this assumption. Wire transfer fraud schemes typically involve a criminal hacking into and monitoring a business’s electronic information (i.e., email, terms regarding purpose of wire, wire transfer instructions, etc.). The criminal then uses this information to divert the wire transfer to a separate bank account. By the time the intended parties to the wire transfer transaction learn of the fraud, it is often too late to recover the lost funds.

Victims of wire transfer fraud range from small businesses to large corporations, and according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), wire transfer fraud is on the rise.  In its Public Service Announcement Alert Number I-050417-PSA, the FBI reported a 2,370% increase in actual and attempted wire transfer fraud schemes from January 2015 to December 2016.  In the second half of 2016 alone, more than 3,000 businesses and individuals were the targets of wire transfer fraud in the United States, with potential losses in excess of $346 million dollars.  Fortunately, the threat of wire transfer fraud can be significantly reduced if a business knows what to look for, and if it implements sound policies with regard to how wire transfers are approved.

How Criminals Obtain Sensitive Information

Criminals may seek electronic information to aid in wire transfer fraud in a number of ways.

* Email Compromise. This usually involves the hacking of public domain email accounts (i.e., Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) or the creation of a similarly named account through which the criminal may communicate (i.e., aduke@xyzcorp.com versus aduke@xywcorp.com).

* The term is short for malicious software, and includes computer viruses, ramsomware, spyware and adware placed on a computer without the user’s consent. One purpose of malware is to steal a computer user’s personal or business information, such as passwords and financial information.

* Begins with a seemingly authentic email from a financial institution, credit card company, government office or other legit business. The email requests that the recipient respond to the phisher by providing personal or financial information, and provides a link to a fake web site to collect such information. The link may also install malware on the recipient’s computer.

Watch Out for these Wire Transfer Red Flags

One classic case of wire transfer fraud occurs prior to closing a buy/sell transaction. Through email compromise or otherwise, a criminal has obtained information regarding the parties to the transaction, the parties’ contact information and wire transfer instructions. At the eleventh hour (when everyone just wants the deal to close), the criminal may email the person responsible for sending the wire and request a last-minute change to a different bank account. Weary from overwork, or perhaps just not paying attention, the person responsible for sending the wire follows the new instructions and wires funds to the different bank account. At this point, the wire transfer fraud is complete, and the funds are gone, likely forever.

In addition to last-minute changes, pay special attention to these other red flags, which should raise suspicion in a wire transfer situation:

* A rush request due to an emergency, or other demand that the transfer take place immediately.

* An inability to reach the person requesting funds by phone.

* Awkward phrasing, poor grammar, incorrect punctuation or odd capitalization in written communication.

* A request that is out of the ordinary or not in keeping with established practice for the person or business requesting funds.

* An incorrect email address.

Best Practices to Prevent Wire Transfer Fraud

Develop and adhere to company-wide policies designed to increase employee awareness and to the prevention of wire transfer fraud that incorporate some or all of the following best practices:

* Requests for changes, immediate action, or lack of availability by phone should be met with intense scrutiny.

* Implement a two-step verification process for all wire transfer communications. Require that employees verify wiring instructions by phone with an identified person on the other side of the wire transfer prior to initiating the wire.

* Do not email wiring instructions. Use regular mail, phone or fax instead.

* Scrutinize all email correspondence regarding wiring funds.

* Do not use public domain email accounts for business purposes. Establish company domain email accounts instead.

* Use encrypted email for correspondence of sensitive information.

* Be careful of what is posted to social media, both on behalf of the business, and the individual employees of a company. Think twice before providing details on out-of-office replies, job descriptions and organizational chart information.

* Delete unsolicited spam email. Do not open spam email or click on links provided in suspicious emails.

* Implement two-factor authentication for employee email.

* Know your customers, their reasons for initiating or requesting wire transfers, and their habits regarding such wire transfers

If you suspect your business is the victim of wire transfer fraud, contact your financial institution immediately, and request that it contact the financial institution to which the subject wire transfer was sent. If your financial institution declines to contact the recipient, you should contact the recipient institution, notify it of the suspected fraud, and request that it not further transfer the funds. In some cases, funds wired fraudulently can be returned. However, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure when it comes to wire transfer fraud. Pay attention to red flags and implement policies designed to prevent wire fraud. Most importantly, before any wire transfer is initiated, stop, review and confirm that the information and the situation is consistent with your policies, and only then release funds.

 

About the Author – Adam Duke
Adam Duke is a practicing attorney at Bell, Davis, & Pitt, a law firm in Winston-Salem. His practice concentrates on banking and financial services, commercial real estate, and construction law. Adam earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and he gives back to the community by serving on the Winston-Salem Leadership Council of the Children’s Home Society of North Carolina.

Economic Development Update: Study says North Carolina is best state for starting a business

North Carolina is top-ranked for new businesses

Entrepreneurs and business owners need look no further than the Tar Heel state to set up shop — North Carolina came out on top in a new study of the best states to start a business.

The study, conducted by Fit Small Business, cited the state’s labor market and taxes as driving an ideal environment for business owners. Fit Small Business, out of New York City, says it provides research to help small business owners make wiser decisions.

To read Triad Business Journal’s article, click here.

To read Fit Small Business’ full article, click here.


Exciting news is being announced about new development projects happening in or around Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. Click here to access an archive of local news articles, for your reference, regarding these announced projects.

Urban League to host news conference, release State of Black Winston-Salem Report

On Tuesday, July 18th at 11:00 am at the Winston-Salem Urban League’s Vivian Burke Quality of Life Center at 3441 North Patterson Ave., the Winston-Salem Urban League will release the State of Black Winston-Salem Report. The report, previewed by Urban League members and partners who attended the organization’s annual meeting, presents indices that compare the standing of African-Americans in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County to white residents. It is modeled after the decades old, annual, State of Black America Report published by the National Urban League.

The Winston-Salem Chronicle previewed and will publish an exclusive article about the report’s findings on Thursday, July 13th.

Stunningly, the report shows that black residents in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County earn only .62 cents for each dollar made by white residents. Black residents in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County have a homeownership rate that is half that of white residents. Black residents are half as likely to have access to healthy food. Black residents have a death rate 1.25 times that of white residents. Arrests of black residents for nonviolent traffic offenses in Winston-Salem, occur at a rate approximately 1.4% more frequent than for white residents.

Most stunning, perhaps, are the education indices. Forsyth County black third graders are approximately 60% less likely to read at grade level than white third graders. Regrettably, this disturbing trend carries forward to high school in English II where low testing performance continues. The data trends similarly for math.

Urban League CEO James Perry remarked, “while the data is alarming, it confirms the experience of many in the metro area who live life at the margin of society. Black families have always known that they were trying to do more with less. This report tells us exactly how much less. A better understanding of the problems allows us to pivot to solutions. These are not challenges for black Winston-Salem or white Winston-Salem, these are challenges that can only be solved by a united Winston-Salem.”

The full report will be available at www.wsurban.org.

Nominate a local small businesses for their hard work in our community!

The Truliant Small Business & Independent Small Business Awards offer recognition to small companies for their success and contributions to the community, while providing the opportunity to showcase their company at the Annual Meeting.

Nominations

* Anyone can nominate a company
* The nomination process is extremely easy and will only take about 1 minute
* Anyone can nominate more than one company
* A company only needs to be nominated once
* Award winners ARE NOT chosen by how many nominations they receive
* Self-nominations by employees and owners are encouraged

Please submit nominations to Joseph Hamby NO LATER THAN July 31, 2017.

Eligibility

We strive to recognize a mix of excellent, diverse small businesses that meet the following criteria:

Independent Small Business Award

* Locally owned and operated with 50 full-time employees or less (company-wide)
* Are viable for-profit companies and successful in their business
* Have been in business for at least three years
* Maintain a responsible and rewarding workplace environment
* Give back to our community through volunteerism, contributions, or in-kind services

Small Business Award

* Locally operated
* Franchise business with 50 full-time employees or less
* Are viable for-profit companies and successful in their business
* Have been in business for at least three years
* Maintain a responsible and rewarding workplace environment
* Give back to our community through volunteerism, contributions, or in-kind services

Click here for more information about the Truliant Small Business & Independent Small Business Awards!

W-S Chamber Accepting Nominations for the Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award

The Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award is a tribute to individuals or groups who make a difference in their communities or places of work by using their time, talents and compassion to positively impact the lives of others. Recipients of the award help foster a culture of citizenship and service that acts as a catalyst for others to become involved in civic and social activities.

Purpose of the Award

 To recognize and reward leadership and/or involvement in volunteerism and community service
 Encourage a culture of citizenship and service in our communities
 Complement the efforts of those individuals and organizations in our community striving to improve our quality of life

Eligibility

 The award will recognize individuals, teams and/or work groups within an organization
 Nominations, on the attached nomination form, will be received from Chamber members at least one month prior to the annual meeting or the Chamber recognition event
 It is not necessary for a nominee to be a Chamber member or a Duke Energy customer

Click here for the nomination information and nomination form. Nominees are not required to be a Chamber member or a Duke Energy customer. Please email or fax nominations to Janet Silvers at 336-917-2510.

Economic Development Update: Winston-Salem is 3rd best city for young IT professionals

Winston-Salem top-ranked for IT Professionals

Winston-Salem is one of the top cities for young professionals in the IT industry, according to a new ranking by Right Click, an online newsletter of Verizon focusing on technology news and guides.

Winston-Salem is ranked 3rd on the list of the best cities in the U.S. for young IT professionals, which noted the city’s business and arts scene, along with the presence of Wake Forest University.

To read the Triad Business Journal’s full article, click here.


Exciting news is being announced about new development projects happening in or around Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. Click here to access an archive of local news articles, for your reference, regarding these announced projects.

Sharon Fisher Named Chamber Director of Government Affairs

Sharon Fisher, a former small business manager and district liaison for two Congress persons and a Senator, is the new Director of Government Affairs for the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. In this role, Fisher will direct the Chamber’s advocacy work at the local, state, and federal level.

Most recently, Fisher was small business manager for The Faithy Zone in Brown Summit, NC. She previously has been senior constituent services representative for Senator Kay Hagan and district liaison for Congressman Melvin Watt and for Congresswoman Eva Clayton.

“We are pleased to have someone with both government affairs expertise and small business management experience join our organization,” said Gayle Anderson, president and CEO of the Chamber. “Sharon understands the importance of small and large businesses and how to represent their interests to our elected officials.”

About the Chamber

The Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce is the leading business organization in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, representing its 1,200+ area businesses that are committed to increased economic development in the region. The Chamber is dedicated to establishing Winston-Salem as a technology-driven economic center, and provides services to strengthen existing businesses, support entrepreneurs, and encourage small business creation. The Chamber supports public school student achievement, workforce, and higher education development.

For more information, please visit www.winstonsalem.com.