Winston-Salem State University will examine challenges and possibilities for economic development in the eastern part of its city and throughout Forsyth County, thanks in part to a $3 million grant from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Center for Advancing Opportunity.
Although Forsyth County is home to several respected colleges and universities, world-class hospitals, and a strong tax base, Winston-Salem is strongly divided by race and income level, Richardson said. Richardson, an economics professor for the past 25 years, has published in a wide variety of areas ranging from health insurance and economic development to property rights.
Officials say that the WSSU Center for the Study of Economic Mobility will provide research, community outreach, and scholarship opportunities to directly address disparities for low-income families in the region, despite Winston-Salem and its surrounding counties being among the strongest in the state for education, health care and income
“It is crucial to understand just what is holding broad-based development and upward mobility back and how that might be changed at the local level,” said WSSU Economics Professor Craig Richardson, who will serve as CSEM’s founding director. “The goal is basically to better understand how to remove barriers to economic and social development across the board.”
According to a release, children from low-income families in Forsyth County are less likely to move up the income ladder as adults compared to kids almost anywhere else in the United States, according to a study by economist Raj Chetty. Only two counties in South Dakota are worse. Even residents in neighboring counties Yadkin, Stokes and Surry have better economic mobility outcomes.
The grant is funded through TMCF’s partnership with the Charles Koch Foundation, and the announcement follows a May initiative between WSSU and several area colleges and universities to bolster entrepreneurship in Forsyth County.