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

National Sports Media Association Announces 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees | Sports Month

The National Sports Media Association (NSMA) honors, preserves and celebrates the diverse legacy of sports media in the United States.

Each June, the NSMA holds an awards weekend to honor those voted by their peers as:
• Hall of Fame inductees
• National Sportscaster of the Year
• National Sportswriter of the Year
• State Sportscaster of the Year (49 states, plus DC)
• State Sportswriter of the Year (49 states, plus DC)

This June, the NSMA will honor Hall of Fame inductees Woody Durham (UNC radio play-by-play announcer), Bryant Gumbel (NBC Sports, HBO Sports), Thomas Boswell (Washington Post) and Dick Weiss (New York Daily News, Philadelphia Daily News); National Sportscaster of the Year Kevin Harlan (CBS Sports, Turner Sports, Westwood One); National Sportswriter of the Year Adrian Wojnarowski (; 104 State Sportscasters and Sportswriters of the Year.

Other honorees will include the Roone Arledge Award for Innovation winner (TBD), the Big House Gaines College Basketball Coaches of the Year (NCAA Division I and Division II) and the Jim Nantz College Sportscaster of the Year (presented by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America).

During the awards weekend, the NSMA hosts events at different Winton-Salem venues to expose the City to award winners and their guests. These events focus on education and networking, with the signature awards banquet capping off the weekend.

The 59th NSMA Awards Weekend will be held June 23-25. In the next month, the NSMA will be announcing a local recognition dinner that will kick off the awards week on Thursday, June 21.

The NSMA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to develop educational opportunities for those who are interested in pursuing a career in sports media, through networking, interning, mentoring and scholarship programs.

Above: The 58th NSMA Awards Banquet, June 25, 2017. From left, NSMA executive director Dave Goren, 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Mike Lupica (NY Daily News), 2016 NSMA National Sportscaster of the Year Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated), and 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Linda Cohn (ESPN), at the Millennium Center, downtown Winston-Salem (Daniel Coston Photo).

The Chamber’s Keep it Local initiative promotes community support for local business ventures. Spending locally creates a strong economy and a sense of place which gives our town its unique lifestyle. The Keep it Local campaign will feature a different segment of businesses each month in 2018. March is Sports Month.

The Dash and Black Tie Transportation Ink Long-Term Agreement

The Winston-Salem Dash are proud to announce they have signed a long-term agreement with Black Tie Transportation, a North Carolina-operated business that has been one of the industry leaders in transportation over the last 29 years.

As part of their agreement, the Dash will travel via buses provided by Black Tie Bus Charters, which is run out of Winston-Salem. The Carolina League spans from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Wilmington, Del., and the Dash will travel over 6,500 miles this season with Black Tie Transportation.

Starting off as a luxury chauffeured car business in 1989, Gray Hill and his family entered the transportation industry with a single stretch limousine in the Triad area. Originally running the company from the family home, Hill has stewarded his business growth to a new corporate headquarters with a fleet of more than 75 vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, vans, limousines, buses and motorcoaches. For more information on Black Tie Transportation, call (336) 768-5177 or visit

The Dash will kick off the season by traveling to Zebulon, N.C., to square off against the Carolina Mudcats on April 5. Winston-Salem’s home opener is set for Thursday, April 12, against Carolina. Single-game tickets and season-ticket packages are on sale now. For more information, call the Dash at (336) 714-2287 or visit


The Winston-Salem Dash and Black-Tie Transportation are both members of the Winston-Salem Chamber.

Forsyth Technical Community College Announces New Dean of College and Career Readiness

Dr. Sydney Richardson has joined Forsyth Technical Community College as the dean of College and Career Readiness. As part of the Economic and Workforce Development Division, College and Career Readiness serves approximately 2900 students who take Adult Basic Education classes, Adult High School courses, and English as Second Language courses, leading them to either additional academic pursuits or the workforce.

Prior to joining Forsyth Tech, she worked at Salem College as Director of the Writing Center, Assistant Professor of Education, and Dean of Adult Education.

Dr. Richardson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a master’s degree in English and African American literature from North Carolina Agriculture and Technical University and a doctorate of philosophy in educational studies with a specialization in cultural studies and women and gender studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Her passion and focus in her career has centered on creating transformative learning environments for non-traditional students, and assisting them in reaching their career and life goals.

“My vision for College and Career Readiness is to help the students we serve reach their next level of success by providing career and academic pathways, and connecting with community organizations to assist in this effort,” said Dr. Richardson. “When anyone meets a person who could benefit from our courses and programs, I want them to think of us first.”

Vice President, Economic and Workforce Development, Dr. Alan Murdock said, “We are excited to have Dr. Richardson as part of the Forsyth Tech family. She brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and energy to a program that fuels economic development in our community.”

Chamber’s Keep it Local Initiative Receives National Award

Our efforts to tell the story of our small business community have paid off! 

The Chamber is excited to share the news that we have placed first in a contest judging communications efforts for Small Business Saturday, which highlighted the holiday shopping season on November 25, 2017.

The Small Business Saturday campaign was promoted by the Chamber as part of its Keep it Local initiative. Methods of outreach included a mix of traditional and social media advertising. A highlight of the campaign was a series of social media videos featuring local small businesses. In telling their stories, the Chamber conveyed the range of locally-made products, entrepreneurs, and craftsmen which make our community a unique place to live, work, and shop.

The Chamber also promotes supporting local businesses of all sizes due to the economic benefits of keeping money in the local economy. The Chamber has supported the national Small Business Saturday effort, organized by American Express, for the past 5 years.

Chris Mead, the Senior VP of Member and Sponsor Relations for ACCE, explained the reason for the selection:

“The Greater Winston-Salem Chamber’s Small Business Saturday program really impressed us. One of the things we loved about the program was its ability to reach the media effectively. For example, you released well-made videos about your members for public consumption, such as the Colony Urban Farm Store video, with 4,300 views, and Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies, with more than 20,000 views.

Among the numerous other items in the campaign, there was a TV interview reaching 672,650 households in the demographic area. Overall, you reached one-quarter of the metro population. That’s an achievement to be proud of. You promoted the Small Business Saturday concept as a whole and helped it come alive by focusing on some of your interesting members.”

Mark Owens, President and CEO of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, expressed his thanks for the recognition from ACCE and notes that the accolade is a great way to positively showcase our chamber, community, and our members.

Add the hashtag #keepitlocalws to your posts to participate and engage with the Chamber and our business community!

The Small Business Saturday videos, originally shared on Facebook, can be viewed below. Special thanks to our videographer for this project-Scott Burton, Founder of Forever is Tomorrow Foundation

CP3 Basketball Academy | Sports Month

From the courts of West Forsyth High School and Wake Forest University, basketball player Chris Paul quickly shot to fame in the NBA when he was chosen by the New Orleans Hornets as the fourth pick in the 2005 NBA draft.

The Winston-Salem native is a four-time NBA assist leader, and a six-time NBA steals leader, who won MVP honors at the 2013 All-Star game. He is also a two-time gold medal winner with Team USA at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games.

Chris’s family still resides in the area, and he has always maintained ties to his hometown. He is actively involved in the youth development and training center he founded, CP3 Basketball Academy.

The facility, located near Hanes Mall, teaches kids in grades K-12 how to play basketball, but that is not the only focus inside this gym. Their philosophy is to use sport as a tool to build character, leadership, and life skills which set youth up for a bright future whether or not they ultimately find the same kind of success as a player such as Chris.  

Visit to learn more about their curriculum, training schedule, camps, and more.

You can also meet some of the coaches and players in person at the Chamber’s upcoming VIBE event at Winston Lake Golf Course on May 15.  

The Chamber’s Keep it Local initiative promotes community support for local business ventures. Spending locally creates a strong economy and a sense of place which gives our town its unique lifestyle. The Keep it Local campaign will feature a different segment of businesses each month in 2018. March is Sports Month.

Thunderbirds Receive Executive and Broadcaster of the Year Awards

After an inaugural season which achieved record-breaking attendance in the Federal Hockey League, the Carolina Thunderbirds are announcing special recognition for members of their off-the-ice team: 

Scott Brand, President and General Manager, is the recipient of the FHL’s Executive of the Year award. This award is given out to the individual or group whose efforts in their organization help to grow the brand of the FHL and raise the bar of competition and entertainment.

Under Brand’s direction, the Thunderbirds broke the Federal Hockey League’s single-season attendance record in the teams’ first-ever season. Brand, a native of Lansing, Michigan, has been involved with hockey for the last 45 years.

Executive Assistant to the Commissioner and Head of the FHL Awards Committee John Landers commented on the selection of Brand for the award, “What can one say about Scott Brand in the game of professional ice hockey that’s not been said before? Scott simply gets the job done and done well” Wrote Landers. “If there’s an off-ice hockey hat to wear Scott will wear it if necessary to accomplish a goal. What Scott and his dedicated staff in Carolina have accomplished is simply amazing. Record-setting attendance numbers, a loving and trusting community association, and a true family fun environment game in and game out. This is why the FHL Awards Committee has chosen Scott Brand as this year’s Executive of the Year.”

Al Kessler, the team’s announcer and Vice President of Media Relations & Communications, is the recipient of the Broadcaster of the Year award.

John Landers on Kessler being chosen for the award, “Al Kessler, the 2017-18 Broadcaster of the Year is the full package. Al’s consistent dedication to his craft is clear and made his selection by the Awards Committee an easy one. This does not detract from any of the other announcers within the league who also work hard, we just felt that Al’s efforts clearly went the extra mile all season and he should be acknowledged for it.”



Workplace Strategies | Salute to Business

Workplace Strategies is an architecture, facility planning, and interior design firm founded in the year 2000. They have grown into an industry-leading practice focused on progressive design. Based in Winston-Salem, Workplace Strategies has planned, designed, and project-managed the construction of over 10 million square feet of commercial and institutional real estate. Completed projects number over 500 nationwide, ranging from Miami to Seattle as well as international sites.

The firm uses a studio environment and team-based design to provide customers with passionate representation, creative talent, and design solutions grounded in research and innovation. The firm was the first in the region to adopt sustainable design principles as fundamental to its design process.

Workplace Strategies has been involved in many of the region’s transformational projects including Biotech Place, the R.H Dean Building, Inmar’s headquarters, National General Insurance, Qorvo’s headquarter campus, Rockwell Collin’s campus, TW Garner’s headquarters, Lowes Foods and Alex Lee’s headquarters, the renovation of VF’s headquarters, a portfolio of clinical and medical office projects for Wake Forest Baptist Health, extensive work in the Innovation Quarter, and planning work for the graduate schools on Reynolda Campus.

The firm is a partner in Flywheel Coworking, a coworking space operation that co-locates with colleges and universities to build membership-based innovation communities. Workplace Strategies has provided advanced workplace and change management consultation for Fortune 500 companies, including its exploration of the coworking movement, one of the fastest growing sectors of commercial real estate.

Workplace Strategies was honored at our Salute to Business luncheon on February 28, 2018.

First Row from left to right:
Peter Marsh, Vice President – Workplace Strategies, Inc.
Alicia Hardin, President – Workplace Strategies, Inc
Mark Owens, President & CEO – Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce
Paul Meyer, Architect – Workplace Strategies, Inc.

Second Row from left to right:
Kevin Robert, Area General Manager – Twin City Quarter
Kristin Hollingsworth, Studio Director – Workplace Strategies, Inc.
Jill Atherton, Vice President, Economic & Community Development – Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce

Third Row from left to right:
Terry Barber, Director of Catering and Event Planning – Twin City Quarter
Richard Brooks, Director of Sales and Marketing – Twin City Quarter

WSSU’s Winning Traditions | Sports Month

Tonia Walker, the Director of Athletics for Winston-Salem State University, is carrying on a winning tradition for Rams Athletics. Ms. Walker shares her thoughts on what athletics means to individual competitors and to the communities that cheer for them, for Keep it Local: Sports Month.

Tonia Walker, Director of Athletics, Winston-Salem State University

Tonia Walker has served as director of athletics for Winston-Salem State University since May 2014.

In her tenure, the Rams have taken home 15 CIAA championships. Named the 2015-16 CIAA Athletic Director of the Year and the 2016 Administrator of the Year for the National Association for Collegiate Athletics Administrators, Walker works to continuously advocate for and champion WSSU student-athletes and opportunities for women and minorities.

Walker has been part of WSSU athletics since 2000.

Describe the past legacy and the current impact of WSSU Rams athletics on our community and on collegiate sports.

A vibrant and successful program is typically the front porch of any university. The same applies for Winston-Salem State University Athletics. Thriving on a legacy of athletics success, WSSU has a winning tradition that permeates all sports within the program. “Big House” Gaines, legendary basketball coach, along with players like Cleo Hill and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe put WSSU athletics on the map in the 1960s. Gaines and Monroe took WSSU to an NCAA national championship, the first of any HBCU.

Bill Hayes, the winningest football coach in the history of the institution, followed with back-to-back CIAA championships in football. In more recent history, Coach Connell Maynor led the Rams football program to the NCAA Division II National Championship game in 2012. Since 2010, the Rams have claimed 28 CIAA championships, including the first volleyball and women’s outdoor track titles in school history. 

Championship success has been at the helm of the Rams athletic program for quite some time. This type of success yields national exposure for the university and for Winston-Salem. There’s tremendous energy around Rams athletics. In August, the university unveiled a fierce new Ram logo. One national publication called the logo “devastatingly awesome.” WSSU athletics also reached a national audience of millions in November when our band and cheerleaders – along with our new logo – were featured on ESPN’s “First Take,” a show co-hosted by Ram alumnus and supporter Stephen A. Smith.

We also may have caught a few people by surprise last fall when Hero Sports named WSSU football – winner of three CIAA titles in the past six years – the top football program in North Carolina. 

People want to be associated with a winner, and having a winning athletics programs garners increased attention to the university, which in turn drives university applications.  

The success that WSSU has had also is attractive to corporations for sponsorships and partnerships. We have been able to secure an exclusive automobile sponsorship (Modern Automotive) and partnerships in Winston-Salem that are not common in Division II Athletics.

Our sporting events also have a huge impact on our local economy. The CIAA Indoor Track and Field Championships have been held in Winston-Salem for five of the last six years, bringing hundreds of athletes to our city.

Also, WSSU Homecoming week is one of the biggest annual events in Winston-Salem, with thousands of WSSU alumni and friends staying in hotels, dining in restaurants and attending events downtown. 

Our lifeline, the HORN$ Giving Club, has also yielded increased participation due to our success over the years. This is an opportunity for alumni, supporters, faculty and staff, to support the program financially through an annual contribution.

WSSU athletics has served the university and the city of Winston-Salem well, and the future looks bright!

What impact does playing sports have on students?

Playing a sport helps to prepare student-athletes for life after college. The average fan focuses on the wins and losses of an athletics program and the participant statistics, as in the number of touchdowns ran, the number of points scored, or the number of strikeouts in a single game. However, athletics serves as the foundation for so many athletes as they transition into adulthood. Athletics provides a sense of confidence and becomes the DNA for many who participate in athletics. Leadership skills are also evidenced through participation of athletics and are available after years of competitive sport. There are also many life skills that are also acquired by way of athletics as: punctuality, time management, adaptability, resilience and operating in a structured environment. These are the reasons that many companies are very intentional about hiring former student-athletes. 

I can truly say that athletics has been a pivotal part of my life, and I give credit to my days as a student-athlete for the woman, leader, and person that I am today.

 How can the community support Rams athletics?

  • Volunteer your time to become a mentor or serve as an ambassador or host an event or fundraiser.
  • Become a financial contributor. Financial support can be offered in the number of ways, from team and game sponsorship, becoming a HORN$ member, or by sponsoring and/or attending one of our fundraising events. 
  • Attend our games. Whether it’s a football game at historic Bowman Gray Stadium, the hallowed halls of the C.E. Gaines Center, or at BB&T Ballpark, there’s nothing like the excitement of cheering for Winston-Salem’s home team.

I challenge you to help support the Rams in our quest to take the program to new heights.

WSSU Athletics

Winston-Salem State University’s department of athletics offers a comprehensive intercollegiate athletic program for all students fielding teams in men’s and women’s cross country, women’s track and field, football, women’s tennis, women’s volleyball, softball, and baseball. Varsity and junior varsity cheerleading also function within the department as athletic teams. 

The program currently operates within the rules and regulations of Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and is a member of the Central Intercollegiate Association (CIAA). Nearly 300 student-athletes compete in sports at WSSU each academic year.

The Chamber’s Keep it Local initiative promotes community support for local business ventures. Spending locally creates a strong economy and a sense of place which gives our town its unique lifestyle. The Keep it Local campaign will feature a different segment of businesses each month in 2018. March is Sports Month.

Slade Parsons Reaches for Racing Dreams | Sports Month

Local high-schooler Slade Parsons is well on his way to achieving a dream he’s had all his life: to become a professional race car driver. He’s making it happen by combining his skills behind the wheel with many other efforts considered unconventional for a teenager, like attending business meetings after school and perhaps being the youngest member of the Chamber of Commerce we’ve ever had. Corresponding with our Keep it Local: Sports month – Slade is making a big announcement about a new partnership that’s helping him reach one step closer to his dream.  

My name is Slade Parsons and I am a 17-year-old Junior at RJ Reynolds High School. While my friends are out having fun on weekends I am continuing my path to living my dream as a professional race car driver. It is a full-time commitment and in 2018 I will be facing my biggest challenge.

I have been racing for about seven years and with each season my success has continued to grow. Last season was my best winning at Friendship Speedway in Elkin, NC and recording numerous Top 5 finishes wherever we raced. In October of 2016, I won the biggest race of my career at the Dirt Track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and wanted to follow up that win making a statement with the design of my race car.

I sat down with my manager and we came up with the “Salute to Winston Salem” tribute car that featured the skyline of Winston-Salem on the racecar. The impact was huge for me personally and to be able to share where I live with racers and fans from all over our country was memorable. It was so cool to have my car in the annual Jaycees Christmas parade and again the reception we received was incredible.

I have had the opportunity to get to know members of our Chamber of Commerce and it was amazing attending the Chamber meeting introducing our new President and CEO Mark Owens. I am hoping that our involvement with the Chamber will allow us to get to know other members and perhaps new fans and supporters too.

I am so excited to tell you about my 2018 racing season. I have just become a teammate to the National Modified Champion, Kyle Strickler, who will be maintaining my racecar as well as mentoring me on my driving and career. It is a dream come true for me to be a teammate to a true national hero. You might not have heard of Kyle but at tracks as far away as Iowa, he is a star. He takes my racing to a whole new level and he is as excited as I am to help me become one of the best in the country. We will now be bringing the Winston-Salem tribute car not only to local race tracks in the Carolinas but to fans as far as 700 miles away who might have never visited my hometown.

My teaming with Kyle Strickler is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my career. I am confident that this partnership with Kyle will make Slade Parsons and Winston-Salem household names across America. I am honored to bring awareness and new visitors to my hometown.

To learn more about Slade Parsons and the “Salute to Winston-Salem” tribute car or marketing or media information please call Rolfe Schnur Motorsports Marketing at 954-224-8661.

The Chamber’s Keep it Local initiative promotes community support for local business ventures. Spending locally creates a strong economy and a sense of place which gives our town its unique lifestyle. The Keep it Local campaign will feature a different segment of businesses each month in 2018. March is Sports Month.

WSSU’s Graduate Programs Receive $2.4 Million Boost

A $2.4 million federal grant is aiming to increase the number of African American and low-income students in STEM and allied health graduate programs at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU).

The six-year grant, from the U.S. Department of Education HBCU Graduate Fellowship, will provide scholarships, tutoring, and support for WSSU students and faculty in six STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and healthcare graduate programs, said Dr. Peggy Valentine, dean of the School of Health Sciences and principal investigator (PI) for the grant.

The grant, which is from 2017-23, already is having an impact, said Dr. Yolanda Edwards, chair and professor of rehabilitation counseling and the co-PI on the grant. For spring semester, the grant funded 38 graduate student fellowships or scholarships.

“The dearth of minorities, especially African Americans, in the STEM and allied health fields is well documented,” Edwards said. “This grant will strengthen graduate education at WSSU and help to attract and retain a diverse population of graduate students. This grant also will help WSSU to address the workforce need for qualified professionals in these high-demand fields.” 

These six WSSU graduate programs will benefit from the grant:

Additional scholarship funding will be available for new students enrolling in these programs in the fall.

The grant also will be used to purchase software to create a virtual anatomy and physiology lab to enhance teaching by creating a 3D learning environment for students. The lab will be housed in WSSU’s $53 million sciences building, which is expected to open in late 2019.

WSSU is no. 2 in the University of North Carolina System for students receiving the highest salary after earning a graduate degree, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. WSSU offers more than 10 high-value master’s and doctoral-level programs. For more information, visit

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters 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. Founded in 1892, 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.