Piedmont Triad

AUG 2012

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TRIAD I f there's a single person who embod- ies the history of the Piedmont Triad region, Phil Shugart might be the guy. Shugart is the president of Carolina Liquid Chemistries Corp., which is in the modern laboratories and offices of Wake Forest University's BioTech Place at Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem. His business develops and markets chemical analyzers and reagents — compounds that promote reactions — for medical testing. It also sells small medical-testing machines known as bench-top laboratories, which consist of a chemistry, hematology and immunochemistry analyzer, for doctors' offices, as well as larger testing machin- ery for hospitals. Nearly a century ago, Shugart's grandfather and father were involved in a very different kind of business at the same place. "It was the 1920s, my father was a boy, and he described waking up before dawn to hitch up the horses and drive a wagon full of tobacco from Yadkinville to this very building. It would BE Aerospace, with operations in Winston-Salem, is part of a growing aviation cluster. take them about 12 hours to go 25 miles." He smiles and points down. "They would sleep overnight near where the horses were stabled, maybe even with the horses. And then they would auction off the tobacco in the morning and head back home." The three generations of Shugarts personify the story of the Piedmont Triad's economic transformation. Early in the 20th century, Shugart's grandfather was one of thousands of North Carolina tobacco farmers who earned a good living and even sent their kids to college on the money earned from even a few acres of tobacco. Those days are gone. In the last 30 years, two of the Piedmont Triad's largest industries — textiles and tobacco — have grown much smaller, and a third, furniture, has taken a big hit. With the loss of 90,000 jobs over the last 10 years, some believe that the region was already in a downturn before the Great Recession hit in 2008. That's one of the reasons civic and economic-development leaders in Winston-Salem and the Triad supported turning former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. buildings into a scientific-research park in the early 1990s. It's been a dramatic evolution for Shugart's building, once a tobacco warehouse known as "91 Turkish" for the type of tobacco it housed. Where men in Wrangler overalls once hefted big bundles of tobacco, scientists in white lab coats now work on ground-breaking science in modern, airy offices. "We've had to change our econo- FedEx selected Piedmont Triad International Airport for its Mid-Atlantic hub. 2 B USI N E SS N OR TH C AR OL I N A my," says Allen Joines, mayor of Winston-Salem and president of the Winston-Salem Alliance. During the last decade, he's worked with the private, government and education sectors to develop Piedmont Triad Research Park, turning it into one of the largest urban research parks in the country, potentially supporting 30,000 jobs. That new economy is increasingly diversified, with the Triad also establish- B/E Aerospace Inc.

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