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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Winston-Salem and Wake Forest cash in on state budget

The state budget allocates over $100 million for city-wide tourism investments
Cami Bender
Wake Forest and Winston-Salem both receive money for tourism investments.

The impact of North Carolina’s long-delayed 2023 Appropriations Act came into clearer focus this week for Wake Forest, Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

In a joint release by Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-NC75), it was revealed that the city would be appropriating $123 million in state funding to three city projects. 

One appropriation is $35 million specifically set aside for “economic development activities and infrastructure.” The money is earmarked for improving tourism, sports and entertainment that will serve the Triad and beyond.

The funds are not specifically allocated for Wake Forest, but language in the release seems to indicate an unspecified amount will be going toward Wake Forest’s high-profile Deacon Boulevard project. 

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“The $35 million appropriation will enhance the infrastructure in the area surrounding Baity Street, north of Coliseum Drive and south of Reynolds Boulevard…” the release reads. 

Wake Forest plans to develop the area around its athletic stadiums. (Courtesy of Wake Forest)

The Deacon Boulevard redevelopment, announced in August, is in partnership with two firms and is slated for the university-owned property near Allegacy Federal Credit Union Stadium, David F. Couch Ballpark, the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds — precisely where the announcement articulates. 

The redeveloped area will feature mixed-use residential and commercial spaces, complementing the sports venues already on the property.  

At this time, however, there is no timeline for the project nor an estimate of how much it will cost. 

Wake Forest and its affiliated ACC sporting events were listed as some of the “major attractions” that warranted further tourism investment. 

The Demon Deacons are one of the fastest growing brands in the ACC, according to data from YouGov. Wake Forest Athletic Director John Currie said in his blog “The Quad” that the fanbase has experienced a 115% increase in growth since 2019.

“Across the nation, over 2.7 million people now identify as Wake Forest fans,” Currie said. 

Wake Forest President Susan Wente applauded the funding in the press release.

“Wake Forest is proud to be a partner in these important commitments to the collective well-being of our community and to be one of the many reasons people come to visit and fall in love with Winston-Salem,” she said. 

The property slated for redevelopment is adjacent to the fairground — the site of the Carolina Classic Fair. The city has significant interest in maintaining the space, listing the fair as another marquee tourist event in the press release. 

Wake Forest is proud to be a partner in these important commitments to the collective well-being of our community and to be one of the many reasons people come to visit and fall in love with Winston-Salem.

— President Susan Wente

Mayor Pro Tempore and Councilmember Denise D. Adams, who represents the ward in which Wake Forest is located for the city council, mentioned the fairgrounds by name in the release as an area in need of improvement. 

“We will use these funds to address parking, traffic and pedestrian issues for the coliseum/fairgrounds area,” Adams said. 

Winston-Salem has previously been ranked as one of the least walkable cities in the country.  

The budget fight, explained

The North Carolina state budget passed on Sept. 22, going into effect 10 days after without Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature, following months of arduous legislating. 

The bill was delayed in both General Assembly chambers because of a high-stakes battle to expand legal gambling across the state. While the casino advocates eventually conceded, it left the budget intensely delayed. 

The more than 600-page, $30 billion state budget passed nearly three months after it was due. 

Funding is being directed to other universities in Winston-Salem as well for restoration projects — $37 million for work on Winston-Salem State University’s  Kenneth R. Williams Auditorium and $51 million for the city’s efforts to restore the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ Stevens Center.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will also be receiving a little more than $1 million in grants for repairs. 

Additionally, hanging in the balance was a massive new expansion of Medicare in the state, which would give healthcare to more than 600,000 North Carolinans when implemented. The expansion will take place on December 1. 

But based on the press release, more was at stake for Winston-Salem and Wake Forest in the state budget process than previously known.

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About the Contributor
James Watson
James Watson, Arts & Culture Editor
James Watson is a sophomore from Wilmington, N.C. who plans on majoring in politics and international affairs and minoring in classical studies. Outside of OGB, James is heavily involved in state and local politics and the director of Deacs Decide on campus. A host on Wake Radio, James loves the sound of his own voice. He is also a serial tweeter.

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