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Wake Forest Innovation Quarter announced today its selection as an inaugural member of the Global Institute on Innovation Districts (“the Global Institute”), chosen as one of six districts from around the world that will comprise the organization’s initial steering committee.

The launch of the Global Institute follows five years of research and on-the-ground practice by the authors of The Brookings Institution’s “Rise of Innovation Districts” 2014 research, Julie Wagner and Bruce Katz, together with seasoned industry practitioner Thomas Osha, to offer new insights on how successful innovation districts are organizing themselves to forge ahead and to establish a formal network-based organization to support the growth and impact of innovation districts around the world. This work also has culminated in the launch of a research brief entitled “The Evolution of Innovation Districts: The New Geography of Global Innovation”.

The Innovation Quarter joins similar innovation districts in St. Louis, Mo.; New York, N.Y.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and Melbourne, Australia on the Global Institute’s Steering Committee.

“The Innovation Quarter has become a leader around smart and strategic governance,” said Bruce Katz, Global Institute board member and founding director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University.

The Global Institute’s Steering Committee will be charged with shaping the overall agenda of the Institute and ensuring research, network, and other activities meaningfully advance the paradigm and practice of innovation districts. In addition to Katz, Wagner and Osha, the Steering Committee will eventually include up to fifteen innovation districts that have demonstrated real leadership in the field together with researchers, practitioners and policy makers to help shape the broader research and impact agenda.

The Global Institute was established in response to growing demand to support innovation districts globally. It is designed to be a practitioner-led and empirically grounded not-for-profit organization to strategically advance innovation districts worldwide. The objectives of the organization are to:

  • Create a global network of innovation districts
  • Identify and monitor the growth of innovation districts across global regions
  • Capture and dissect their main challenges and highlight their successes
  • Provide detailed evidence-based strategies and data to accelerate their work
  • Foster collective engagement on top priorities—such as access to capital or IP protections—creating norms around growth, finance, and governance
  • Support communication and shared learning across districts

Findings in the Global Institute’s new report highlight the Innovation Quarter’s unique governance model, its partnership with local and state government entities and its work with developers like Wexford Science + Technology in leveraging historic tax credits to bring about adaptive reuse of historic structures.

“More and more, we are seeing our approach of mixed-use, knowledge-based economic development to be a dynamic force in cities around the country and even the world,” said Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the Innovation Quarter. “We have been fortunate enough to share a vision of this approach with our development partners—especially Wexford Science + Technology—as well as with our city, county governments and state partners. All of our partners have helped us become a model for other innovation districts as they establish and grow.”


Wexford Science & Technology, LLC and the Innovation Quarter today announced Venture Café Winston-Salem as the leader of a new minority- and women owned business accelerator to be located in Bailey Power Plant. Venture Café will partner with Piedmont Business Capital to provide support, training and access to funding for local businesses and entrepreneurs.

“Venture Café Global has excelled at advancing inclusive innovation across the country, and we are extremely fortunate to have Venture Café Winston-Salem carrying that flag in our community,” says Will Partin, senior director of development for Wexford Science & Technology. “This partnership will provide truly impactful services, mentorship, and opportunities to entrepreneurs and businesses run by women and people of color.”

Under the initiative, Wexford will provide $200,000 in funding support to Venture Café over a two-year term, in addition to 1,400 to 1,600 square feet of additional office space inside the Bailey Power Plant.

“Together with Piedmont Business Capital, our two organizations are deeply committed to delivering a first-class experience through the center that will provide certification training, access to funding, entrepreneurial resources, business matching and more to people of color and women in Winston Salem,” said Karen Barnes, Executive Director of Venture Cafe Winston Salem.

The aim of the accelerator will be to encourage, support and spark local small businesses and start-ups founded by women and minorities. Venture Café’s mission is to broaden, connect, and support the innovation community through public spaces and programs to help anyone with an idea succeed, making the non-profit an ideal fit to lead the new initiative.

An independent advisory council, led by former Winston-Salem city council member and current state representative Derwin Montgomery, reviewed applications from several non-profits to lead the accelerator and made its decision based on the merits of each response and the council’s assessment of the business acceleration opportunities presented by each program.

“This initiative for minority and women-owned businesses is another step to ensure that the economy of the future in Winston-Salem is an inclusive one,” said Montgomery. “I am excited to see increased collaboration and innovation occurring daily in the Bailey Power Plant as Venture Café takes on this new challenge, one in which they are uniquely positioned to help the city address. I look forward to seeing the diversity of the businesses that will grow due to this effort.”

The program will be housed in the Innovation Suites at Turbine Hall, part of the Bailey Power Plant, which opened in February. The Innovation Suites now house several startups and companies, as well as the operations and Thursday Gatherings of Venture Café Winston-Salem.


Front Street Capital and Wake Forest Innovation Quarter today announced The Variable as the flagship tenant of its new redevelopment project at Bailey South in the Bailey Power Plant block. The three-time AdAge Small Agency of the Year focuses on business innovation, marketing consulting and advertising services, and will occupy the top two floors of the new building upon completion.

“We can’t imagine a better-suited marquee tenant to anchor our redevelopment of Bailey South,” said Coleman Team, developer of the project with Front Street Capital. “The Variable is perennially recognized as one of the most innovative and creative agencies in the entire country, and they work with well-known international, national and local companies. They are a homegrown, Winston-Salem success story and their presence will add significantly to the vibrancy of this development.”

The Variable’s team has quadrupled in size over the past four years, primarily driven by the success it’s had in helping its clients drive growth for their businesses. That has resulted in the company being on the brink of max capacity in its current space at Plant 64, also located in the Innovation Quarter, and potentially exceeding capacity as soon as mid-2019 based on its current growth projections.

“We needed to develop our office space plan for 2020 and beyond given our growth path, and we were dead set on finding something that would feed and grow our innovative spirit and creative heart,” said David Mullen, president and partner at The Variable. “When we heard Front Street Capital’s vision for Bailey South as a game-changer for downtown Winston-Salem, when we saw the building’s renderings and communal spaces, when we learned that STITCH Design Shop would be our architect and design partner, we knew it would be an incredibly special place for our city. And we wanted our fingerprint to be a part of it.”

Front Street Capital will begin construction on Bailey South in November and, upon completion, will begin redevelopment of the Morris Building as the last phase of the Bailey Power Plant block. These two phases total over $25 million in investment with 100,000 square feet of office, retail and entertainment space. Bailey South will be a six-story, 75,000sf building in between the iconic former RJ Reynolds smokestacks in the Innovation Quarter.

“The growth and expansion of The Variable over the last several years has been impressive,” said Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the Innovation Quarter. “Their presence as the anchor tenant is an important central piece to the Bailey South project and the Innovation Quarter community.

The project also includes redeveloping the historic, elevated railroad trestle to serve as a pedestrian walkway with direct access into Bailey South and the outdoor space called “the coal pit.” The Variable’s occupancy of two floors will be complemented by two floors of retail and two additional floors of office space.

“An important part of our success is in our ability to attract incredibly talented people locally and from around the country to join our team,” said Mullen. “When we’re wooing someone to join us and they’re excited about our business and work, they still want to be excited about the office setting where they’ll come to work every day, too. We believe the top two floors of Bailey South and the space we’ll co-create there with Front Street and STITCH will blow them away.”

Construction of Bailey South is projected to be complete in January of 2020.


Wexford Science & Technology, LLC today announced a new minority- and women owned business initiative to be located in the Innovation Quarter and run by an independent local non-profit or government agency. The aim of the initiative will be to encourage, support and accelerate local small businesses and start-ups founded by women and minorities.

Under the initiative, Wexford will provide $200,000 in funding support to the chosen organization over a two-year term, in addition to 1,400 to 1,600 square feet of office space inside the Bailey Power Plant. Non-profits and government agencies whose missions align with the goal of supporting minority- and women-owned businesses can apply to lead the initiative.
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Wake Forest Innovation Quarter today announced the projected sale of Building 23-1 (Bailey South) and the Morris Building on the Bailey Power Plant block to Front Street Capital, which will redevelop the buildings into nearly 100,000 square feet of office and retail space.

The new redevelopment project has commitments from over 25,000 square feet of office users who will occupy the building upon completion.

The $25+ million Front Street Capital project is the second stage in the redevelopment of the entire Bailey Power Plant property. Wexford Science & Technology recently completed its $40 million redevelopment of 23-2, the main 110,000+ square foot facility on the Bailey Power Plant block, which opened in February. Multiple office and retail tenants have already moved in and begun operations, with more announced over the last several weeks.

“This is exciting news for the continued evolvement of  Bailey Power Plant and  Innovation Quarter,” said Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the Innovation Quarter. “The Front Street team has shown a unique vision for redeveloping these buildings that compliments the existing Bailey Power Plant and expands the vision for Innovation Quarter.”
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Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and Wexford Science & Technology announced today the addition of Cugino Forno, a family-owned Neapolitan pizzeria and Italian eatery, as the newest tenant in Bailey Power Plant.

Cugino Forno will occupy 5,800 square feet on the first floor of Bailey Power Plant and will feature family-style seating for 150 to 200 people, including outside seating in the former coal pit. The new restaurant will employ approximately 16 full- and part-time employees and is expected to open around the beginning of October.
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Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and Wexford Science & Technology announced today the addition of Incendiary Brewing Co., a new locally owned brewery and taproom as the newest tenant in Bailey Power Plant.

Incendiary will occupy approximately 6,200 square feet on the first floor of Bailey Power Plant, including a 2,000-sq. ft. taproom to showcase an impressive line of IPAs, barrel-aged beers and adjunct/spiced beers to go along with several classic styles. The brewery will occupy another 2,000 square feet of connected outdoor space in of the former power plant coal pit, providing additional seating and an open-air downtown vibe.
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Wexford Science & Technology, LLC today announced the opening of the Bailey Power Plant, a 111,479 square foot historic building redeveloped into innovation, office, entertainment, retail, and congregation space, located in downtown Winston-Salem.

The Bailey Power Plant is the last of the historic buildings to be redeveloped by Wexford within the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and culminates the largest historic redevelopment project in the history of North Carolina, now totaling over 1.1 million square feet.

The 19-month project cost approximately $40 million and encompassed the adaptive reuse of the five-story main power plant structure as well as additional outdoor communal space to complement the active and popular Bailey Park.
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Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, Wexford Science & Technology and local restaurateur Claire Calvin today announced a new restaurant to be opened in the redeveloped Bailey Power Plant in January 2018.

Alma Mexicana will be an urban, modern iteration of Winston-Salem’s laid-back Tex-Mex spot The Porch, which opened in West End Mill Works in 2014. With a lunch menu featuring favorites such as rice bowls, tacos and salads, plus many new items, Alma Mexicana will provide fresh, fast counter service to the busy downtown lunch crowd.

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