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


Category Archives: Keep it Local

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.

Volunteering on the Construction Industry Council | Keep it Local

Being part of the Chamber’s Construction Industry Council is a natural fit for Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County. After all, Habitat has been nurturing the next generation of tradespeople for years — right in line with the goals of the Council, which seeks to recruit more young adults for construction jobs.

Each year the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools’ Career Center builds a Habitat house as part of its curriculum, giving high school students the chance to learn valuable skills in carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical trades. At the Chamber’s Construction Career Days field trip, students from WS/FCS and surrounding counties experienced hands-on learning by building the framing for the home of Wevell Valentine through a partnership with Habitat.

Many of Habitat’s youngest volunteers encounter Joe Brown, Habitat’s director of construction and land development. “I really enjoy working with young people, and I have met college students from everywhere, from as far away as India and Korea. I like to say I have ‘grandchildren’ all over the world,” Brown said.

Joe Brown – Habitat for Humanity

After spending the better part of 30 years running his own general contracting business, Brown has been enjoying a second career at Habitat since 2009, putting his skills to use guiding volunteers on construction sites. He is particularly excited that, thanks to connections made through the Construction Industry Council meetings, an official Boy Scouts Explorer Post for youth ages 14 to 20 is being established at the Habitat construction warehouse.

“Young people who enjoy working with their hands are ideal for the construction trades, and there will be many job opportunities for them in the near future as current tradespeople are retiring,” Brown said. 

Construction Career Days 2017

Habitat’s membership on the Council is also invaluable for forming relationships with construction companies and potential vendor partners, said Mike Campbell, Habitat Forsyth’s executive director. As one of the Triad’s most active residential builders, the organization generally builds or remodels 15 homes a year for Habitat partner families. And, as part of its overall Neighborhood Revitalization strategy, Habitat also performs critical repairs on another 25 houses owned by other families in its target communities.

“The Chamber recently helped us secure an in-kind donation of materials for a wall build from 84 Lumber,” Campbell said. “Gifts like this, as well as the volunteer time committed to Habitat by many of our local builders and tradespeople, allow us to do our work of providing badly needed affordable housing for local working families.” 

Learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County

Learn more about the Chamber’s Construction Industry Council 


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. May is Real Estate/Home Services Month.

Apartment Market Overview for Forsyth County | Keep it Local

The apartment industry continues to be the “not so little engine that could” in the real estate sector, both nationally and locally. Due to a confluence of factors, including a tight single-family home market, strict lending standards for mortgages, and young professionals’ desire to retain mobility at a time when job changes often mean moving hundreds or thousands of miles, demand for apartments remains higher than supply so apartment managers are enjoying an extended period of low vacancy and rising rents.

Lofts at Little Creek (Hanes Mall Blvd)

Real Data, a company that surveys market-rate apartments in metro areas throughout the southeast, recently released it’s April 2018 report and the numbers show that the local apartment industry remains very strong. (It’s important to note that we are referencing market-rate apartments with 5+ units only and a relatively few apartment communities that accept housing vouchers; the data does not include the housing authority, SFH rentals or senior housing).

According to Real Data’s survey results, average rents in the Piedmont Triad have grown 4.2% in the past 12 months and vacancy has fallen from 6% to 5.5% in the same time frame. Average rents across all apartment types – class, and number of bedrooms – are now $842 and the average rent per square foot is up from $0.844 to $0.888 in the last year.

Lofts at Little Creek (Hanes Mall Blvd)

In Forsyth County, Real Data reports 23,035 apartment units with a vacancy rate of 4.8%, an average rent of $827 and an average rent per square foot of $0.867. The strongest submarket in Forsyth is downtown, with vacancy there at 4.5% and average rent at $962 and rent per square foot at $1.107.

Downtown is also where a large majority of apartment construction is happening, with 573 of the 813 apartment units under construction in the county being built there. While that could lead to a short-term spike in vacancies and a flattening of rent growth as those units come online, it should not have a long-term negative effect on vacancies or rent.

One relatively new change to the local apartment industry is the entry of companies from outside the region. The Triad apartment market has traditionally been dominated by “homegrown” companies, but now that the larger metro markets like Charlotte and Raleigh have been saturated with new development, apartment investors and developers are looking at smaller markets like Winston-Salem because they are finding greater returns here. As a result, our rent and occupancy rates are expected to outperform those of the rest of the southeast, which is a change from the past.

Overall, the local apartment market is expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future. In 2017 the National Apartment Association released a study that showed the Piedmont Triad will need to add over 19,000 new apartment units in the next 12 years. Combine this increased demand with our currently well-balanced supply and the future looks bright for the local apartment industry.


Jon Lowder is the Executive Director of the Piedmont Triad Apartment Association, a trade association that represents 140 companies that own and manage 65,000 apartments throughout the Triad, and 20,000 units in Forsyth County alone. Contact Jon.


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. May is Real Estate Month.

Selling a Home in Today’s Real Estate Market | Keep it Local

Your friend sold her home the second day it was on the market. Your cousin had multiple offers on his home – some above listing price. Your co-worker had interested buyers for her home – and it wasn’t even listed for sale.

So if homes are in such demand today, why do some stay on the market for months – or longer?

While buyer demand is outpacing the number of homes for sale at many price points, that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t particular.

“Most buyers today are looking for move-in ready homes that have been updated, repaired and in excellent condition. Buyers simply don’t want to do the work. Even something as simple as paint color can cause a buyer to choose a different home,” said Angela Kalamaras, branch leader of the Allen Tate Realtors® Winston-Salem Cherry Street office.

Kalamaras offers the following tips to sell a home quickly at a fair price in today’s market:

Price to sell. Many sellers make the mistake of initially pricing their home too high, thinking they can reduce it later. Your home will receive the most exposure within the first week of listing. If the price causes a potential buyer to turn away, you might not have a second chance.

Keep your home updated. Today’s buyers are not looking for yesterday’s trends, designs or colors. Modern appliances, fixtures, countertops, and carpet are expectations – not just luxuries – for many buyers. Even if you are not looking to sell for a few years, start making updates today so your home will be ready when the time comes. Important: Talk to a Realtor for advice before making updates.

First impressions matter! Make sure your home has excellent “curb appeal.”

Stage to sell. You want a potential buyer to imagine themselves living in your home. Create a neutral environment that is extremely clean, decluttered and free of personal items like photographs. Remove excess furniture to make rooms appear larger. Don’t forget that buyers will also open closets and peek in cabinets. Add a fresh coat of paint throughout and repaint all rooms to a neutral color. If you’ve already moved, invest in some staging furniture to make your home more appealing.

Modern appliances, countertops and fixture are expectations for today’s homebuyers.

Create a spacious atmosphere with neutral colors, tasteful accessories and well-placed furniture.

Negotiate a fair offer. Today’s buyers are willing to move quickly, but only for homes priced fairly for the market and condition. And buyers are likely to make more demands with a higher offer. Your Realtor can help you price your home by looking at comparable home sales and market conditions.

Use a Realtor. A professional Realtor has the expertise, knowledge, and connections to help you price and market your home, evaluate and accept an offer, and most importantly, get to closing without difficulty or delay.

“Even in a seller’s market, it’s not easy to sell your home without the help of an expert. Accordingly to the National Association of Realtors, the typical FSBO (For Sale By Owner) home sold for $190,000, compared to $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales,” said Kalamaras.

Allen Tate Realtors is the No. 1 real estate firm in the Carolinas and is ranked No. 4 in the country among independent real estate brokerages. Allen Tate has 47 local offices in North and South Carolina, including two in Winston-Salem at 147 South Cherry Street, Suite 100 and 3884 Oxford Station Way (Hanes Mall Boulevard).

To contact an Allen Tate Realtor in Winston-Salem, call 336-722-0331 or 336-722-0331.


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. May is Real Estate Month.

3 Blind Dice Expands Cafe, Plans Ribbon Cutting | Small Business Month

3 Blind Dice is in the heart of Winston-Salem – joining the Porch and Hoots as part of the
vibrant and growing West End Mill Works. It is a gathering place for people to relax, meet new friends, and become part of a community of people who love board gaming and a good cup of joe. It was founded last year by Connor Doten, a graduate of UNCG’s Bryan School of Business.

Connor has recently launched a line of customized coffee brews that complement the store’s gaming theme. “We’ve been working with our small-batch local roaster to develop three unique offerings; a rich, dark roast called Ace of Spades, a decaf option named Dungeons and Decaf, and of course our signature house blend, Homebrew.” Homebrewing refers to the making of your own set of rules when playing a game. 

The atmosphere at the store is fun, comfortable, colorful and happy, featuring up-cycled doors, windows, and game boards as the decor. Soft, comfy seating, free wifi and plenty of baked goods, snacks, and sandwiches make it a place you can linger for hours. Other perks include an incredible selection of board games and accessories for sale, and a vast library of games you can play free of charge, or rent and take home. Store hours are Monday through Saturday noon to 11 p.m. and Sundays noon to 8 p.m.

With the new coffee line now available, Connor felt it was the perfect time to celebrate his growing business with a Ribbon Cutting celebration. The event will take place Wednesday, May 2, 2018 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 1151 Canal Dr. Suite 103. City officials will commemorate the celebration with a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m., followed by board games, demos, giveaways, gourmet coffees and refreshments.

Connor is thrilled about the ribbon-cutting. “The store has quietly been here for a year. We were waiting until we established ourselves and had our food and beverages in place before our official ribbon-cutting. It is a milestone we are truly excited about and we look forward to sharing it with the community.”

3 Blind Dice is Winston-Salem’s home for games and gatherings. If you would like more information, please call Connor Doten at 704-728-6522, email [email protected] or visit 3 Blind Dice at 1151 Canal Dr #103, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

 

Decorating for Spring with Casual Furniture World | Small Business Month

Ahead of National Small Business Week (April 29-May3), we’re learning about some of the small businesses that offer a variety of goods and services around Winston-Salem. Casual Furniture World is sharing some advice on creating your perfect outdoor space this Spring. Come see all they have to offer at Business Before Hours on May 4th. 

What trends are you seeing in outdoor furniture for 2018? 

Outdoor kitchens are more popular than ever; firepits; sectionals, including wicker/woven, aluminum, or composite.  Accessories are more important than ever, with lots of fun & funky pillows. People are really embracing the idea of their outdoor living area being as large as the indoor area. 

What is important to know before buying outdoor furniture? 

Before shopping for outdoor furniture, plan out your space and consider which types of seating you would like. Take measurements of the area ahead of time-it will save a lot of headaches when you get to the store. It is also important to consider how much direct sunlight your furniture will be exposed to since some furniture can stand up to the sun exposure better than others. 

It seems like a lot of local businesses now have outdoor seating; do you sell commercial outdoor furniture as well as residential? 

We do have a commercial division in addition to our retail stores.  Many of our lines can be used in either application, but we offer some that are specifically designed for commercial use.  When considering furniture for a business, it is even more important to invest in quality since it tends to be used (and abused) more than in a residential setting.  We anticipate opening a commercial showroom at our Winston Salem location in May. 

There are lots of stores in the Triad that sell outdoor furniture, as well as online options; why should someone come to Casual Furniture World?

At Casual Furniture World, we provide an experience as well as a product that is different from the big box store.  Our sales staff is extremely knowledgeable, and we have a wide variety of furniture as well as umbrellas, grills, and firepits in stock.  Our customers appreciate quality and value; they know the furniture they purchase will last for many years.  We frequently have customers who bought furniture from a big box store a year or two ago, and now it’s broken or the cushions are worn out.  Our furniture typically has warranties from 5-20 years, and we’ll take care of any warranty issues you may have.  We provide white glove delivery service, so the furniture arrives fully assembled and our drivers will place it to your specifications.  We also offer complimentary design services to help create the look you want.

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. April is Small Business Month.

Oakes Animal Hospital | Small Business Month

Doctors Rocky and Jessica Oakes are a husband and wife team who opened Oakes Animal Hospital last year after many years as associates in another practice. They are taking part in Small Business Month as they embark on their own small business journey:  

What made you decide to be a veterinarian?

Dr. Rocky Oakes: All my life I have always felt a special bond with animals and have loved learning about them. However, I have also always felt called to help people.  The great thing about each animal I see is that they also come with a person! I went to medical school to become a physician. During my senior year, I worked in a human medical center. It just wasn’t a good experience for me. After considerable thought, prayer and discussion with friends and family, I went back to my childhood vision of a job working with animals. I took a job at an animal hospital and loved it. It was clear that in this way I could help people by caring for their animals.

Dr. Jessica Oakes: I have always found animals fascinating.  Growing up on a small farm I had the privilege of caring for many animals through the years.  Nothing filled me with more satisfaction and awe than nursing one of my animals back to health after an injury or illness.  I love the thought that I can contribute to the health and quality of a pet’s life, and in return that animal can bring joy and laughter to their family. 

Why start your own business?

For many years we worked together in a rural animal hospital in the mountains of Georgia.  There we made many friendships and met many great pets.  Once our first child was born we felt it was time to move on to the next stage in our lives.  However, after experiencing cooperate big business veterinary medicine personally, I was left feeling a bit jaded.  Not only did I miss the time that I could spend with my clients at a smaller locally owned practice, but I also felt like the “one-size-fits-all” care pushed by corporate did not meet all the specific needs my patients had.  I felt then that it was time to open our own place where we could bring back that personal connection with clients while still focusing on quality care. It is a privilege to join this community, and we hope to provide a valuable service to families here for many years to come.

Why is serving the community so important?

During veterinary school, we were able to participate in a few mission trips- offering low cost/free spay and neuter procedures to the Navajo Nation in Arizona and giving wellness care to the herds of nomadic people groups in Mongolia.  These experiences left us feeling blessed and humbled.  Now that our young family and work commitments keep us closer to home we are still trying to find ways to give back and help our community locally.  Since opening our doors we have been able to work closely with the Forsyth Humane Society.  We offer medical care and surgery at a reduced cost to the Humane Society.  We have been rewarded in seeing many of these special animals find forever homes after receiving needed medical attention.

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. April is Small Business Month.

 

 

 

 

X1 Communications | Small Business Month

We at X1 Communications are a local internet service provider based in downtown Winston-Salem. We provide internet services to residents and businesses in the downtown area and guarantee 99.99% uptime. This means dependable, fast internet access when you need it. Our two main locations are the Winston Tower and GMAC buildings downtown. From these vantage points, we beam lightning fast internet to our customers wirelessly.

We are able to meet or exceed all of the aspects that are attractive with a traditional Internet Service Provider, while providing what we consider to be better levels of customer service because we’re here in the local area. Since we’re local, we are able to build relationships with other businesses in and around Winston-Salem. We enjoy keeping up with our customers online. We started sharing some “Fun Facts” about the internet on Instagram, which people seem to really enjoy:

If you’re the owner of one of those 1.24 Billion websites, get in touch with us today to learn more about what we do!

Website | Instagram

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. April is Small Business Month.

The Geek in Heels | Small Business Month

Business owner Shalisha Morgan embraces her role as a woman in the tech field. By naming her company “The Geek in Heels,” she promotes her personal brand, yet she’s also making a statement for many other women and girls interested in STEM and other fields where gender gaps exist. In between meeting with clients and fixing phones, computers, and other devices, you will often find Shalisha at speaking engagements promoting a range of topics from women’s entrepreneurship to cyber safety for seniors. We spoke to the Geek in Heels in this installment of Keep it Local: Small Business Month.

When did you become interested in computers and technology?

I really became engaged with devices when I was around 10 years old and my Mother purchased our first computer. When I received the device, I was so intrigued by the DOS Command line prompt and entering my own commands. I taught myself how to navigate through DOS and have been in love with technology ever since. I truly love building with little to no instructions. I just enjoy ‘figuring it out’ as I go. I am self-taught, for the most part, on repairing devices.

What services does your company offer?

I first began solely as a cracked screen repair provider when I first launched in Kansas City back in 2014; however, as I was contacted by potential customers, my services expanded. I offer all devices repairs from cracked screen replacements, parts replacement, in-home service calls, software/hardware training, and virus/malware removal. If a device is still under warranty with the manufacturer, I will act as the liaison between the customer and the manufacturer in order to get their device serviced free of charge. If I can save my customers money, I am all for it by any means. I also offer free classes to Senior Citizens educating them on the importance of Cyber Security and avoiding email scams. Geek In Heels is a luxury repair service with a very personal touch.

What inspires you to speak on behalf of women’s entrepreneurship and women in tech?

“You cannot be what you cannot see.” Due to this fact, it is of great importance to me that young girls of color see that there is someone who looks like that may have the same background as them in the field of STEM. I want young girls to be inspired and empowered to be ANYTHING that they should want to be unapologetically. Often times, I find that women are waiting for the “right time” before they pursue their dreams. The ‘right time’ never seems to come so it is important that one take action now. If you fail, so what! What is important is that you at least tried. Learn from the failure, make changes and pivot. I want women to believe in themselves and in their dreams. I want them to be empowered by their inner power and strength. Everything that I am, was already inside of me. I seek to bring out the best in every girl and woman whose path that I cross. I believe that is part of my purpose.

The Geek in Heels: Website | Instagram

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. April is Small Business Month.

Spring Storm Readiness with Servpro | Small Business Month

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. April is Small Business Month.

Protecting Your Home or Business After a Storm

It is estimated that up to 50% of businesses that close due to a disaster such as fire or flood never reopen! Of the businesses that survive, the overwhelming majority of them had a preparedness plan in place. If storm damage effects your home or business property, water cleanup is the first and one of the most important processes that you will need to have done. In the event that you don’t complete the water removal process immediately, your property can be subjected to a plethora of unwanted, unnecessary complications. If you find yourself in need of water damage services, it’s important to find a skilled team of restoration experts like SERVPRO of West Forsyth.

Are you “Ready for whatever happens?”

Preparation is a key component for making it through any size disaster, whether it’s a small water leak, a large fire, or an area flood. The best time to plan for such events is not when the event happens, but well before it happens. Now is a good time to review your emergency preparedness plans for your home and business. Make updates as-needed, and put one in place if you don’t have one already.

If your property does incur damage from a storm or other unexpected event, you’ll likely be anxious and flustered. It is not the best time to try to find your insurance company’s phone number, your policy numbers, or research your coverage.

SERVPRO offers an app which can store all of the important information you need to respond to a disaster, so it is ready when and if you ever need it. The SERVPRO® Emergency READY Profile serves as a quick reference of important building and contact information, and policy numbers. It can be an ideal supplement to any well-designed emergency preparedness or existing contingency program.

About SERVPRO of West Forsyth County

SERVPRO of West Forsyth County understands the stress and worry that comes with a fire damage or water damage and the disruption it causes your life and home or business. Our goal is to help minimize the interruption to your life and quickly make it “Like it never even happened.”

SERVPRO of West Forsyth County specializes in the cleanup and restoration of residential and commercial property after a fire, smoke or water damage. SERVPRO of West Forsyth County can also mitigate mold and mildew from your home or business. Visit us online or call 336-946-1131 for more information.

Competition with Character-The YMCA of Northwest NC | Sports Month

Q&A with Jay Sutton, Executive Director of YMCA Sports for the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, with locations in Forsyth, Stokes, Davie, Yadkin, Iredell, Wilkes and Alexander Counties.

Tell us about YMCA Sports.
YMCA Youth Sports provide young athletes with the opportunity to learn new skills, stay active, build confidence and discover what they can achieve. Sports at the Y are about more than winning or losing. It’s about making friends and developing a lifelong passion for sports. YMCA Sports are neighborhood-based with convenient locations throughout Winston-Salem and the greater region.


What sets YMCA Sports apart?
On the field or on the court, the YMCA fosters an environment of teamwork, fair play and good sportsmanship. We depend on volunteer role models to coach our youth sports teams and guide young players by modeling the Y’s core values of honest, caring, respect, responsibility and faith. Each sports program focuses on developing character, community and skills in an environment of healthy competition and fun.

What sports does the Y offer?
Youth can participate from age 3-18 in soccer, basketball, volleyball, t-ball/baseball, softball, flag football, lacrosse, field hockey, golf and summer sports camps. Last year, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina had almost 10,000 youth sport participants and 800 volunteer coaches. 

What else should I know about Y sports?
The YMCA offers a family-friendly registration process where families can choose the best practice day, location and time for their child. Feedback on the registration system has been outstanding. One family with four children was able to schedule practices for all the kids on the same day and time at their local Y.

To register or learn more, visit www.ymcanwnc.org/sports.

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.