Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. hosted a virtual panel discussion featuring three leading economic development experts in the region, state, and country:  

Stan Kelly, President and CEO of the Piedmont Triad Partnership 
Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of NC  
Dariel Curren, Executive Vice President of Development Counsellors International 

Regional Perspective 

Stan Kelly, President and CEO of the Piedmont Triad Partnership 

The Piedmont Triad Partnership is focused on a regional approach to economic development. PTP is promoting business expansions and development through the Carolina Core initiative – a placemaking and economic development branding strategy for Central North Carolina from west of Winston-Salem to Fayetteville. 

The long term strategy for the Carolina Core has not changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the region, more than $1 billion in new projects have been announced from companies including UPS, Nestle, and others, since the pandemic began.  

The region’s advantages include a high quality of life, strong workforce, and diverse education opportunities.  

As we continue to cope with COVID-19 and look to move forward after, the region has a lot to offer: a resilient and diverse economy that isn’t heavily reliant on one industry, smaller communities that allow more distancing, reshoring opportunities, regionalizing supply chains, and more. The Carolina Core has strengths in key sectors – logistics and transportation, manufacturing, biotech and life science, aviation, and entrepreneurship among others.   

State Perspective 

Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of NC  

EDPNC encompasses new business recruitment, existing business support, small business startup assistance, tourism promotion, and more for businesses throughout North Carolina. EDPNC’s individual initiatives work together as a whole to help create a healthy state economy.  

Coming into the pandemic, North Carolina was experiencing a high water mark for new development and announced projects with 21,000 new jobs announced last year.  

The state entered 2020 with a robust pipeline of active projects including recruitment deals and expansions.

As we examine the impact of COVID-19, some sectors have outperformed expectations, including food and beverage, biotech and life science, and pharmaceutical. 

Tourism, which is a 28 billion dollar industry in North Carolina, is likely facing a multi-year recovery.  Although some sectors like tourism are struggling, North Carolina’s overall economic picture is better than what may have been anticipated in March.  

Business retention and expansion is just as important to overall economic development strategy as recruitment. Now is an ideal time for regional economic development organizations to check in with their business leaders and discuss ways in which to help create economic strategies that help them to grow and hire.

National rankings including being the top state for business by Forbes and a #1 state business climate by Site Selection help to hold our state in high esteem.  

National Perspective 

Dariel Curren, Executive Vice President of Development Counsellors International 

According to DCI’s research, 2020 Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing, location decision-making remains strong despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Projected location decisions within 24 months are up from 2017. Research also confirms that mid-tier and suburban areas are rising in attractiveness as companies seek to avoid the country’s largest metro areas which may experience higher COVID-19 impact.  

The most active industries currently are in biotech and life science, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage, and transportation and logistics – all industries which fit well in Winston-Salem and the Triad’s recruitment strengths.  

The top factors in location decisions remain the availability of a skilled workforce, labor costs, available sites, and a business-friendly government. 

A notable finding in the research is that economic developers may not have the opportunity to pitch to site selectors until after their community is already shortlisted by the project decision-makers. Communities and states that have strong placemaking and economic development marketing, and rank well on national platforms, are more likely to reach that shortlist and have the potential to win more projects. 

This year, North Carolina is ranked as the #3 best state and EDPNC is ranked as the #1 best state-level economic development organization in DCI’s research findings. 


Carolina Core 

Find Your Center NC