North Carolina voted best state for business while Winston-Salem remains stagnant

North Carolina voted best state for business while Winston-Salem remains stagnant
July 28
15:25 2023

By Algenon Cash

North Carolina topped CNBC’s state business competitiveness rankings for the second year in a row as workers flock to take advantage of a booming economy and the growing operations of companies including Apple within the state. It is the second consecutive year at the top for North Carolina – a rare feat in the CNBC study, which launched in 2007. 

The CNBC study measures all 50 states across 10 categories of competitiveness, for a total of 2,500 possible points. North Carolina scored 1,628 points to capture this year’s crown. 

Undoubtedly the news generated much buzz in Raleigh where elected officials in both parties jockeyed to make claims their policies were effectively the reason for such high recognition. However, if you look closely at which cities are benefiting the most from the state’s economic boom, hands down Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, and Greensboro are the largest beneficiaries. 

Greensboro/Guilford County have boasted about a long list of economic development wins in recent months – Toyota, Boom Supersonic, ProKidney, and Publix. While the last major win for Winston-Salem was over a decade ago in 2012 when HerbalIfe agreed to purchase the shuttered Dell facility that sat vacant for three years. 

Local economic development officials such as Karen Barnes and Smith Reynolds Airport Authority Director Mark Davidson reimagined the land-locked airport as an “Aerotropolis,” home to aircraft maintenance companies, aviation research, and drone technology. 

None of it has borne fruit and now a Texas-based company just selected Piedmont Triad International Airport for its Marshall Aerospace Facility, and Honda Jet is expanding its commitment to PTI with another 300 jobs – meanwhile, Winston-Salem and Forsyth County elected officials bicker over who should have control of Smith Reynolds Airport. 

What’s the future of Winston-Salem’s economy? 

I’m not asking a rhetorical question, but moreover asking the question plaguing the mind of every community leader in town. No one can articulate a clear response. 

Mark Owens, president and CEO of the famed Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, was recruited to quarterback the city’s economic development team. He has yet to score any points. 

Mayor Allen Joines is the de facto chief business development officer for the city, but yet we’ve seen population and job growth in Winston-Salem underperform its regional counterparts. All the while poverty, homelessness, and hunger steadily rises. 

Our illustrious city council doesn’t seem to have the answers to solve these problems either. The city’s violent crimes are up 500% over a ten year period, while economic development remains flat. 

Winston-Salem is growing its murder rate at a faster clip than its job creation numbers. Business leaders are growing impatient and frustrated by the day. 

Citywide elections are fast approaching and every voter in the city should be demanding change. 

Winston-Salem offers a relatively lower cost of living compared to larger cities like Charlotte or Raleigh. It has a vibrant arts and cultural scene, numerous parks, and a strong sense of community, contributing to its overall quality of life. City leaders must work aggressively to showcase our strengths and leverage them to recruit high paying jobs, but regional collaboration with other cities can enhance economic development prospects as well. 

Public safety must become a function of social capital development, so that we not only support law enforcement, but also engage more deeply in prevention. Sustainable affordable housing, public transportation, and critical infrastructural needs all must be addressed through more inclusive dialogue. 

Lastly, we need to refocus on building trust in Winston-Salem so that all citizens feel welcomed to engage in the process of healing, restoring and revitalizing our community. 

Algenon Cash is the managing director of Wharton Gladden, a boutique investment banking and consulting firm headquartered in North Carolina. Reach him at

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors