In recent weeks, there has been speculation about our community's workforce and what some might perceive as a challenge to find or attract talent to Winston-Salem and the Triad. The truth is that the vast majority of our local employers tell us that they do not have any difficulty attracting the talent they need for professional positions.
As Debra Crew, Reynolds American CEO, said in her speech at the Chamber's annual meeting last month, the city's vibrant downtown, low cost-of-living, and cultural and recreational amenities were positive factors in recruiting talent for Reynolds American. BB&T, which relocated from Wilson several decades ago, has grown to be the nation's 14th largest financial institution while headquartered in Winston-Salem and has recruited hundreds of executives to this community. Likewise, when Wells Fargo merged with Wachovia and was considering what would remain in Charlotte and what would remain in Winston-Salem, its executives touted the high quality of our workforce as one factor for keeping jobs here.
Across the nation, North Carolina is known as the best state in which to do business, and the state has numerous rankings to back up that claim. Our Triad region of 1.24 million people has a civilian workforce of nearly 700,000, providing a wide variety of levels of skills and experience. And, here in Winston-Salem, we have a number of colleges and universities with excellent reputations preparing students for future careers.
For decades, North Carolina has enjoyed a reputation as having one of the finest community college systems anywhere, and this community has a history of responding to specific workforce needs. Forsyth Tech has been honored to host a presidential visit in 2010 in recognition of its global economy and bio-tech programs and a visit by the U.S. Secretary of Labor in 2015 to highlight its bio-tech education.
It offers training programs for every type of business and can train anywhere from one employee to thousands, as it has done for such companies as Herbalife, Caterpillar (now Progress Rail), Pike Electric and hundreds more. As employers have expressed needs for additional education for their professional staffs, all of our colleges and universities have come to the table to deliver.
Wake Forest University's School of Business ranks 15th among the nation's top business programs and its part-time MBA program, designed exclusively for working professionals, has ranked first in North Carolina for eight consecutive years. Its Masters in Management program was ranked 4th in the nation by The Economist, and its Master of Science in Accountancy achieved the No. 1 pass rate in the nation.
Winston-Salem State University continues to rank among the top producers of degrees for African Americans in the nation. It also ranks 8th in Health Professions, our largest business segment; and it was named one of the "Best Southern Regional Universities" in 2016, the only North Carolina HBCU to be ranked.
Salem College consistently ranks as one of the best women's colleges in the United States, being rated this year as the no. 1 women's college in North Carolina and ranked 11th as the best national liberal arts colleges for women in the U.S.
And at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the first conservatory in the nation, its School of Drama ranks 6th; its School of Filmmaking ranks 14th; and it is ranked 38th of 736 in Money magazine's Best Colleges in the U.S. While many of the careers it prepares students for require relocation, local companies have taken advantage of the communications skills its students possess in other fields than the arts.
In summary, our colleges and universities have been nationally recognized for their innovative educational assets that produce globally astute, highly diverse professionals, well-equipped for today's and tomorrow's challenges, whether they are students coming right out of the educational institutions or established professionals going back to update their education. Our local companies eagerly recruit these students to join their organizations and our community encourages students at all of these colleges and universities to remain here after graduation. There is a rich pool of talent here.
Interactions with groups of young professionals throughout our city confirm what those of us who have lived in Winston-Salem for decades already knew: this City of Arts and Innovation has a special appeal to individuals who want to advance professionally, enjoy a superior quality of life and live in a diverse community that has something for everyone.
Gayle Anderson is the outgoing president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.
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