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Winston-Salem Alliance

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Winston-Salem, NC

An organization of Winston-Salem’s business community that promotes economic and entrepreneurial development in the area.

The Winston-Salem Alliance's goal is to transform the town of Winston-Salem into a center for entrepreneurial development. It develops a focused action agenda and selects projects that have a positive impact on job creation and economic vitality of the community. All major corporations in the Winston-Salem area are involved in this organization to help move Winston- Salem forward and sustain its future economic success.

Nuts and Bolts:

  • The idea for the Winston-Salem Alliance was first proposed in 1999 by Bud Baker, a chief executive of Wachovia who was concerned that the city was not on the right track towards economic growth, and that the city’s corporate leaders were not rallying behind worthy projects.
  • Baker and other Winston-Salem business leaders commissioned a study by the consulting group McKinsey & Co.  This study inspired the decision to form the non-profit group Winston-Salem Alliance to reverse the trends in slow employment growth, decline in average wages, slow growth of minority businesses,and loss of 18-34 year-old population that threatened Winston-Salem’s economic future.
  • The Alliance’s membership is restricted to mainly large companies and corporations. Because the Alliance draws its membership from a more focused pool, they are able to achieve consensus decisions that satisfy all their members more easily than the Chamber of Commerce, which must consider the opinions of a much broader range of businesses in their decision-making processes.
  • The Alliance’s corporate membership also aids their fundraising efforts. The Alliance has also been lauded for successfully creating a forum for corporate and large business leaders, who may be less active in the Chamber of Commerce, to participate. The Winston-Salem Alliance is an excellent example of how private enterprise and initiative can help contribute to public welfare.


  • One of the most notable achievements of the Winston-Salem Alliance was the success of its Millennium Fund initiative. The Winston-Salem Alliance raised $45 million dollars to invest in downtown Winston-Salem to stimulate economic development and growth.
  • Money for the fund came largely from corporations involved in the Alliance, a loan from the City-County Utility Commission, and donations from foundations and individuals.
  • Projects due to be funded by these resources include an expansion of the Piedmont Triad Research Park and the purchasing and developing of downtown land and real estate.
  • The Alliance also began the Triad Entrepreneurial Initiative (TEI) along with Action Greensboro. TEI is an economic development coalition that aims to create high-growth companies in the Piedmont Triad, and make the Piedmont Triad a positive entrepreneurial environment.
  • The Alliance was initially received with some skepticism from the Winston-Salem business community; many felt as though the Alliance would be stepping on the heels of the Chamber of Commerce and other already-existing business cooperatives. However, since its inception, the group has gained respect and recognition from the business community. While its goals may seem very similar to those of the Chamber of Commerce, their method of achieving results and initiating projects differs greatly from the Chamber of Commerce’s methods.