Piedmont Together Comprehensive Regional Plan




The Piedmont Triad has a wide range of economic assets, resources, and opportunities — urban and rural, large and small, wealthy and underserved. This plan acknowledges and shows appreciation for our region's past and inspires us to pursue the new technologies and thinking of the future. Developed in conjunction with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), this plan underscores the importance of equity among our citizens, sustainable growth, and building more resiliency in our local economies and communities. While there are many key challenges, this plan affirms our strong belief in the strength of collaboration and our willingness to work together for a better tomorrow. 

Regional Advantage

By marshaling resources and fostering collaboration at a regional scale, we have the potential to build a resilient economy. As an adopted plan, the CEDS can be combined with other regional councils and ultimately make our region eligible to compete for assistance under the multiple Economic Development Administration programs. 

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Build on and improve sectors of the Piedmont Triad's regional economy that are vital to our economic mix, are growing or emerging, or are unique to our region.

Assess and affirm the most promising urban and rural industrial clusters of the region.

  • Affirm the land use, road reconfiguration and airport business plans and projections with the PTI Airport Authority and all adjacent jurisdictions.
  • Explore opportunities for community college, university and private sector engagement and technology transfer.
  • Engage local hospitals, college nursing and public health programs, community colleges, K-12 and other relevant parties to begin a comprehensive healthcare training program for the region.
  • Initiate a world-class customer service training program (e.g. event and facility management, restaurant and call center operation).
  • Assess the market for rural tourism demand (e.g. bed and breakfast, "dude ranch," NC wine country day trips and overnight stays).
  • Develop a partnership with NC Cooperative Extension and home food processing experts to mentor willing and able home cooks to develop more local food products for the market. (e.g. Jenny's Pickles).
  • Assess the viability of developing fish hatchery and processing facilities.
  • Explore opportunities to develop alternative energy technologies (e.g. biomass, solar).

Develop select low location-quotient areas of opportunity in the region.

  • Access current arts and performance studies to determine opportunities for artistic business opportunities and create a database and map of performance and gallery venues.
  • Focus manufacturing efforts on targeting processes and products that use techniques that are new and different from generations earlier or those commonly used in low-cost foreign operations. Migrate away from products and processes that are simple and labor intensive and can easily be displaced by cheaper competition.
  • Incorporate technological advances such as 3-D printing and robotics into the mix of producing capacity.
  • Develop energy/fuel training and processing capacities.
  • Expand the business opportunities behind recycled waste and recycled products.
  • Evaluate the potential for expanded use of geothermal heatpumps in the region for cooling and heating.
  • Retool current and former manufacturing operations to become green industry component manufacturers for wind, solar and biomass technologies.

Develop "Talent Clusters" through education, mentoring and internship programs.

  • Develop or expand curricula in selected industrial clusters to benefit from industry-specific education or training.
  • Develop or expand curricula in 3-D Printing.
  • Develop or expand curricula in Robotics.
  • Develop or expand curricula in Solar Energy.
  • Develop or expand curricula in Application Development (Coding).
  • Foster development of Talent Clusters around Local Expertise.

Develop collaborative economic development processes.

  • Assess the current legal and legislative status of inter-jurisdictional agreements and legislation.
  • Evaluate the interest in and the opportunity for inter-jurisdictional business parks.
  • Maximize the economic development potential of the Piedmont Triad International Airport.
  • Establish rural partnerships to provide for scale-appropriate business parks.
  • Investigate urban/rural partnerships using less expensive rural land and urban amenities as a means for collaboration.

Establish a strong focus on entrepreneurship & self-sustaining economic development efforts.

  • Assess our region's current practices and capacity for entrepreneurial mentorship and internship opportunities.
  • Promote and support direct entrepreneurial education, mentorship and internship efforts.
  • Promote and support direct entrepreneurial technical assistance efforts.
  • Promote and support the development of entrepreneurial-friendly work spaces and facilities.
  • Promote and support entrepreneurial business capital formation.
  • Explore development of, and support for web-based infrastructure to access entrepreneurship assistance (e.g. on-line regional resource wizard).

Build on and improve the fixed assets of the region — transportation, utilities, connectivity, healthcare, support systems, and the natural environment.

Expand the reach and increase the upload/download speeds of broadband internet service throughout the region.

  • Pursue rapid development and implementation of the NC Next Generation [Broadband] Network Initiative (NCNGN) to deliver ultra-fast bandwidth at highly affordable prices (beyond Winston-Salem).
  • Make other urban areas of the region aware of the NCNGN Initiative and encourage their engagement.
  • Build upon NC Broadband programs (e.g. BIP, Middle Mile) to bring high speed broadband to rural areas of the Piedmont Triad.
  • Establish local Wi-Fi in downtowns and heavily trafficked areas in each community (e.g. Lexington).

Enhance transportation options.

  • Complete the urban beltways around Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
  • Complete the planned Interstate and NC highway improvements.
  • Expand regional (PART) and local mass transit system and funding options.
  • Encourage the use of car-sharing, bike-sharing and ride-sharing services.
  • Increase lower-cost air transportation options.

Maximize the efficiency of public utilities and solid waste management efforts.

  • Optimize existing landfill space to maximize its lifespan.
  • Begin the process of studying long-term solid waste disposal options.
  • Pursue water and wastewater reduction and efficiency programs.
  • Conduct a region wide water and wastewater system assessment to identify existing and potential future service areas, treatment and delivery capacities, and system demands and maintenance requirements.
  • Pursue a region wide water and wastewater system funding initiative to identify top-priority needs and assist local governments to apply for and administer grant funds (e.g. EDA, CDBG, CWMTF, DENR Water Infrastructure Fund, Appalachian Regional Council) and implement projects.

Encourage reduced energy use.

  • Adopt programs to promote reduced household energy use to retain more dollars in the community.
  • Encourage local governments and school boards to adopt sustainability policies and conduct audits covering water, energy and vehicle use.

Prepare industrial land for development.

  • Seek local government accommodation for the development of shovel ready industrial sites.
  • Seek local government accommodation for the redevelopment of existing shuttered or underutilized industrial sites.
  • Seek inter-jurisdictional collaboration on site development.
  • Assess the desirability, necessity and feasibility of public/private partnerships for business/industrial park development.

Encourage increased healthcare facility access.

  • Support increased use of clinics to provide quick, accessible healthcare assistance, especially in less densely populated areas.
  • Create public/private/healthcare/non-profit coalitions to deliver maximum preventative health and treatment services while avoiding expensive duplication and lost opportunities (e.g. include hospitals, county governments, county health and social services departments, county schools, doctors, dentists, nutritionists, psychologists, drug stores).

Provide opportunities for a high quality of life in communities throughout the region.

Enhance the vitality of the region's downtowns.

  • Initiate facade and beautification programs for downtown buildings, sidewalks and streetscapes.
  • Promote engaging community activities and cultural offerings.
  • Support private sector activities and investments.
  • Access outside assistance (e.g. NC STEP & NC Main Street Programs for small towns).

Promote the agricultural economy by organizing greater connectivity among local farms and urban centers.

  • Create Food Policy Councils in each county of the Piedmont Triad.
  • Develop local Farmers Markets.
  • Develop a region-wide local food network.
  • Establish regional & local food processing and distribution co-ops and collectives.

Promote greater community connectivity.

  • Enhance pedestrian, biking and trail options.
  • Pursue greater public transit options for dependent and non-dependent riders (especially in and among urban centers).
  • Increase social connectivity, including engaging diverse communities, newcomers and young and elderly adults.

Develop connections in and among communities for cultural & recreational facilities & programming.

  • Pursue development of after-school shared-use libraries.
  • Pursue the development of shared-use parks and athletic fields.
  • Pursue the development of Public/Private/Non-profit partnerships for community centers, arts and performance facilities, youth, teen and elderly centers.

Promote the efficient and sustainable use of land and resources.

  • Foster the efficient and sustainable use of land resources to increase the benefits and reduce the costs of future growth.
  • Build vibrant, lively and attractive neighborhood & town centers with a mix of higher-density uses in areas communities identify as most appropriate.
  • Provide more housing choices with greater access to jobs and services.
  • Pursue farmland and open space protection.
  • Promote "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) and green construction support.
  • Provide connectivity planning and support.
  • Promote sustainable practices among citizens, local businesses and governmental organizations.

Invest in and develop the human capital of the region — the youth, workforce, disenfranchised, and those with underdeveloped capacity.

Promote excellent baseline education.

  • Support greater high-quality childcare opportunities (e.g. 4-star and 5-star).
  • Seek K-12 enhancements to provide greater connectivity to existing and emerging job opportunities and more efficient use of limited resources.
  • Promote greater use of inclusion programs (e.g. English as a Second Language classes).

Provide accessible and affordable supplemental education for workplace engagement.

  • Seek more internships and On-the-Job Training for greater education/industry connectivity.
  • Develop more mentoring programs.
  • Promote increased training-to-work efforts for the long-term unemployed with increased focus on individual situations and additional attention to current efforts.

Develop greater levels of economic capacity through greater educational attainment, more knowledge, and networked relationships

  • Develop the skills, knowledge and capacity of multiple individuals (i.e. the "talent cluster") necessary to meet the needs of existing and emerging top-priority identified industrial clusters.
  • Promote greater citizen achievement of a bachelor degree.
  • Promote increased "Massive Open Online Course (i.e. MOOC) involvement.
  • Create a culture of education throughout the region.
  • Create greater access to personal network and global connectivity.

Promote increased civic engagement.

  • Encourage the re-formation and growth of participatory civic leadership organizations.
  • Build more civic participation in K-12 education.
  • Introduce transformational processes and practices into communities.

Encourage the inclusion of prosperity-enhancing components beyond wages in economic development recruitment and local ED contracts.

  • Expand the inclusion of healthcare insurance coverage or contributions for employees and their families in economic development incentive contracts.
  • Include a match in local economic development incentive contracts for companies providing transportation alternatives to help employees get to and from work (e.g. bus, rail, vanpool, ride-sharing).
  • Include a match in local economic development contracts for companies providing high quality (i.e. 4-star and 5-star) child care for their employees.


The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the Piedmont Triad Region was unanimously adopted by the Piedmont Triad Regional Council Board of Delegates on February 19, 2014.