Winston's Urban Sprawl and Crumbling Silos
Let's pause for a second to consider the abbreviated directions I gave to Flywheel Coworking's new space at the Center for Design Innovation. Isn't it remarkable that such a short sentence reflects the zeitgeist of innovation? It shows us some serious urban planning going on, where street names are given to christen the era and this portion of downtown Winston-Salem.
There are so many layers to the significance of Flywheel's move. Flywheel is among the first businesses to spin out of the "Innovation Quarter" proper and set up a presence in an uncommercialized portion of Downtown. Said another way, Flywheel is the first major colony from the dubbed "Innovation Quarter" to stake out elsewhere.
What few would dare to do
From the legal perspective, Flywheel's move is monumental. When a business is centered around real estate, moving is no joke. Such a move can be fraught with prohibitive challenges coming from tenancy contracts. The fact that Flywheel moved into a public facility is no small feat either--there are a plethora of public-private partnership laws to maneuver through. Flywheel, CDI, Winston Salem State University, and North Carolina School of the Arts pulled off what few would dare to do, and they've done it successfully. Flywheel is in its first week at the CDI, and the parking lot is nearly full with all of Flywheel's old members and new faces even I don't recognize. A class from Winston-Salem State University visited the CDI today as well. Great things happen when students get to mix with entrepreneurs, and all of that is going to make ALL of Winston-Salem greater.
Among the first popular outposts...
Other businesses have spun out of the Innovation Quarter to colonize portions just south of Downtown. Before the Innovation Quarter was known as such, it had a string of businesses started by edgy, artsy types. Krankies was the flagship of that movement; Krankies' journey through time is beautifully chronicled by Andrea Littell in her WSTownies blog. Also within the legacy of that movement were small businesses like Reanimator, which was a record shop that served as a small venue for musicians. That movement is now getting its rebirth on Acadia Street, which is just south of Washington Square and close by the North Carolina School of the Arts main campus. Slappy's Chicken is among the first popular outposts. A barcade is to move in next door.
Winston-Salem's map is changing and changing quickly. We are ramping up entrepreneurialism across many industries, from the arts to the highly quantitative fields. Silos are crumbling. Underutilized portions of the city are quickly activating.
Winston-Salem is a hot place to be right now!