Smitty’s Notes celebrates 25th anniversary

Jeff Smith

Smitty’s Notes celebrates 25th anniversary
November 25
13:52 2022

In the summer of 1997 Winston-Salem native Jeff Smith sent out an email to about a dozen of his friends with a list of things to do around the city. That email was the start of the Smithy’s Notes, the city’s go-to source to find out about what’s going on in the area. 

“It started it was just a bunch of people trying to figure out what we were going to do Friday night. That was the newsletter … and why it got started,” said Smith while reflecting on the start of the newsletter. 

“It started out as a joke, calling it Smitty’s Community Notes, and it just slowly grew from there.” 

Today, Smitty’s Notes has more than 16,000 subscribers. In addition to the newsletter, “” lists popular restaurants and bars in the area, and a directory which lists local neighborhood associations, nonprofits, elected officials and more. 

Smith, who is a retired paralegal, said the newsletter grew with the city.  When Smith started the newsletter in 1997, there wasn’t much to do in Winston-Salem on a Friday or Saturday night, but that started to change in the early 2000s. He said in the early years it was hard to keep young professionals in the city because there wasn’t much to do. 

“I remember after six o’clock it was like a ghost town downtown,” Smith laughed. “As more people saw that downtown had something to offer, more businesses started to see it as an opportunity.”

Smith said the growth of Innovation Quarter has brought some much needed energy downtown and to the entire city. He said it has also created a lot of gathering spaces downtown where people can just go and hang out. 

Since 2012, 1.7 million square feet of old factories and abandoned buildings in downtown Winston-Salem have been transformed into mixed-use spaces that include restaurants, retail space, service companies, and residential space. 

Last year Phase II of the project was announced. The project calls for the redevelopment of property south of Third Street and north of Salem Parkway.

“It has added a lot of energy downtown and I like it. Plus it creates meeting spaces where people can go out and hang out and with a friend, throw a frisbee or do yoga,” Smith said. “I think Innovation Quarter is going to make a big impact in our community.”

While keeping the community informed through the newsletter and website, over the years Smith has also served as a board member for several local organizations including the Millennium Fund, Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, Downtown Partnership, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Advisory Panel, Center for Creative Leadership, and several others. Smith is also a graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem and Leadership NC.  

For his contributions to the city, Smith has received several awards including the Trellis Supportive Care Living Your Best Life Award, Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award, The Business Journal of the Triad The Most Influential People in the Triad recognition, and The  Business Journal of the Triad Fifty Most Influential People in the Triad. And in 2017 Smith served as grand marshal of the annual Jaycees Holiday Parade. 

Despite all the awards and accolades he’s received over the years, Smith said his proudest accomplishment has been providing people with valuable information. “What blows my mind is that people trust the newsletter, they trust the information that’s coming out of it,” Smith said.

When discussing the future of Smitty’s Notes, Smith said he’s not sure what’s next for the newsletter, with the growth of social media. But he does know that it will continue to evolve. 

“As far as the newsletter, I don’t know what the future holds. I know it will continue … what flavor it will be I don’t know,” Smith continued. “There will be something … the newsletter is not going away.” 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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