The Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point complex occupies two counties and is sometimes called the Piedmont Triad. In comparison to the state’s better-known triad of Raleigh–Durham–Chapel Hill, the economy and lifestyle is more industrial and working-class, although there is a strong university presence and a high level of educational attainment. The economy has an interesting mix of declining and emerging industries, but employment overall has been relatively stable.
Winston-Salem, as the name suggests, has been a center for the tobacco industry. Winston-Salem is also home to Wake Forest University, some affiliated high tech business, a collection of banking centers and is home to Krispy Kreme donuts and a new Dell Computer plant. High Point is a world trade center for furniture and is still center of the state’s largest furniture-manufacturing industry. Unfortunately, the dislocation of that industry offshore, particularly to China, is having an impact on its manufacturing base.
Downtown High Point is a fascinating collection of commercial, warehouse and showroom facilities centered on this industry. Greensboro is the triad’s financial center and is the most prosperous of the three cities, with high tech, light manufacturing, and a large campus of the University of North Carolina. The nicest suburbs in the area spread northwest of Greensboro towards the Piedmont Triad International Airport, which brings unusually good air service to the area.
Bottom line: Greensboro is up and coming, Winston-Salem epitomizes the shift from older economy to new economy, and High Point is an industry town shifting emphasis from manufacturing to becoming a trade and design center. Cost of living is attractive for what the triad offers. The amenities of the Raleigh-Durham area, 80 miles east, are close enough for residents to benefit.
The city complex is located in northern Piedmont in an area of transition between the eastern coastal plain and mountains to the west. The immediate landscape is slightly rolling with woodlands and open country. The climate is a mix of continental and humid subtropical. Winter temperatures and rainfall are modified somewhat by the mountain barrier. The combination of coastal moisture and northern cold air produce more frequent sleet and ice storms than in most of North Carolina. Snow flurries may occur.
Summers are generally mild to warm and humid, with varying temperatures. Most summer precipitation occurs as localized thunderstorms. Late summer and fall hurricanes bring heavy rain. First freeze is late October, last is mid-April.