In December 2002, the Northwest North Carolina Region hired AngelouEconomics to develop a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the eight-county region including Winston-Salem. During the planning process, AngelouEconomics conducted an economic assessment, SWOT analysis, benchmarking study, workforce development plan, entrepreneurship plan, a new brand and a comprehensive marketing plan for each of the eight counties and the Region as a whole. During the process, more than 2,000 individuals provided AE with their ideas through interviews, focus groups, and an online survey.
Upon completion of the project in November 2003, AE helped organize a project rollout event attended by 800 people. The 43-member CEDS Committee and the Atlanta EDA office unanimously adopted the final strategic plan. One EDA official has stated that AE’s strategy “sets the gold standard” for other CEDS projects and is among the best he has seen in his 20-year career. Implementation of the plan began in January 2004. In August 2004, the CEDS received an Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).
The AE team chose the “design” theme as the major brand of the region that tied each county together within the regional CEDS. The plan identified the arts as a major engine for growth and ranked both digital design and biotechnology high in potential for the Northwest North Carolina region. As a result, the State has since allocated $14 million for a new School of Design in the Region and Forsyth Tech Community College has developed a national biotechnology curriculum model. The region also received an EDA grant to fund a $1.5 million workforce center in Surry County. All total, the Northwest North Carolina region has received more than $10 million in new grant funding.
The biggest success story for the region was the 2005 opening of Dell’s 3rd U.S. manufacturing operation in Winston-Salem, creating 1,500 jobs. AngelouEconomics has played a vital role in preparing the region for Dell and its many suppliers.
AngelouEconomics was hired again in mid-2005 to conduct a more comprehensive feasibility of creating a Design Incubator that will become a model of success in the U.S. AE developed case studies of other Design Incubators around the world and provided marketing and organizational recommendations. The Center for Design Innovation has received funding commitments of over $12 million for facility construction and operations.