The Piedmont Triad (or simply the Triad) is a north-central region of the U.S. state of North Carolina that consists of the area within and surrounding the three major parts: Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point. This close group of cities lies in the Piedmont geographical region of the United States and forms the basis of the Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point Combined Statistical Area. As of 2012, the Piedmont Triad has an estimated population of 1,611,243 making it the 33rd largest combined statistical area in the United States.
The metropolitan area is connected by Interstates 40, 85, 73, and 74 and is served by the Piedmont Triad International Airport. Long known as one of the primary manufacturing and transportation hubs of the southeastern United States, the Triad is also an important educational and cultural region and occupies a prominent place in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement.
As part of a redefining of metropolitan areas, the old Greensboro–Winston-Salem–High Point Metropolitan Statistical Area was broken up in 2003 into five separate areas—three Metropolitan Statistical Areas and two Micropolitan Areas. In some ways, however, the region still functions as a single metropolitan area.
- Caswell †
- Montgomery †
† Sometimes included as part of the region
- The name in italics is the county in which the city is located.
Secondary cities over 10,000 in population
- Burlington Alamance & Guilford 50,042
- Thomasville Davidson 26,757
- Asheboro Randolph 25,012
- Kernersville Forsyth & Guilford 23,123
- Lexington Davidson 18,931
- Clemmons Forsyth 18,627
- Eden Rockingham 15,527
- Reidsville Rockingham 14,520
- Graham Alamance 14,153
- Lewisville Forsyth 12,639
- Archdale Randolph & Guilford 11,415
- Mebane Alamance & Orange 11,393
- Mount Airy Surry 10,388
- Summerfield Guilford 10,232
Other municipalities under 10,000 in population
† Indicates municipalities in Montgomery and Caswell (counties usually locally included as part of Piedmont Triad)
The area is served by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and Guilford County Schools. The area is home to a number of religious schools, as well as a number of independent schools including Summit School in Winston-Salem, Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville, and Greensboro Day School and Greensboro Montessori School in Greensboro.
More than twenty institutions of higher education are located within the Triad, including:
- Alamance Community College
- Bennett College
- Bridges Christian College
- Davidson County Community College
- Elon University
- Forsyth Technical Community College
- Greensboro College
- Guilford College
- Guilford Technical Community College
- High Point University
- John Wesley College (North Carolina)
- North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
- Piedmont International University
- University of North Carolina School of the Arts
- Randolph Community College
- Rockingham Community College
- Salem College
- Surry Community College
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Wake Forest University
- Winston-Salem State University
Major art and historical museums contribute to the cultural climate of the region, including the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), The Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Old Salem, High Point Historical Museum, Mendenhall Plantation, the Weatherspoon Museum of Modern Art (located on the campus of UNCG), Blandwood Mansion and Gardens, the Greensboro Historical Museum, Guilford Battleground National Military Park, and the Charlotte Hawkins Brown State Museum. The area also has its fair share of scientific museums, such as SciWorks, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, the Wake Forest Museum of Anthropology, and the Greensboro Science Center. The North Carolina Zoo, the world's largest open-air natural habitat zoo, is located just outside the Randoph County city of Asheboro.
The economy in the Piedmont Triad is a mixed economy.
Industry and manufacturing
The Triad area is notable for large textile, tobacco, and furniture corporations. The Triad remains a national center for textile manufacturing, represented by corporations including Hanes based in Winston-Salem, and International Textile Group, based in Greensboro. Tobacco remains a prominent crop in the Triad's rural areas and many tobacco companies like Lorillard Tobacco Company of Greensboro, and Reynolds American, based in Winston-Salem, call the Piedmont Triad home. Numerous furniture manufacturers are also headquartered in the Triad area, especially in the cities of High Point (deemed the "Furniture Capital of the World"), Thomasville (known as the "Chair City"), and Lexington. The furniture and textile industries have in turn spawned large trucking, logistics, and warehousing businesses in the area. Popular brands like "Thomasville" and "Lexington" are derived from the names of these cities. Recently, however, many furniture and tobacco factories have been closing and/or laying off workers across the region in response to escalating industrial globalization.
Technology and biotechnology
After many of the old industries in the area began to die out, many Piedmont Triad cities began encouraging technological businesses to move into the Triad. Winston-Salem, for instance, founded within its downtown the Piedmont Triad Research Park, now known as Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, a highly interactive, 200-acre, master-planned innovation community developed to support life science and information technology research and development. Dell, Inc. in the early 2000s struck a deal with local officials allowing for the construction of a new computer assembly plant near the Triad city of Kernersville. Dell pulled out of its contract with the city, however, and left after only a few years. Additionally, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the largest institution of higher learning in the region, and North Carolina A&T State University have joined forces to establish the Gateway University Research Park, a technology-based entity that will focus its efforts on a host of biological, life, and environmental science research projects. Upon full build out of the project, it is expected to be housed by two 75-acre (300,000 m2) campuses, employ approximately 2,000 people, and generate $50 million per year to the Triad economy. LabCorp, one of the largest clinical laboratories in the world, has its corporate headquarters and several of its testing facilities in Burlington.
The following are the most prominent regional shopping centers/malls in the Piedmont Triad region:
The Triad is home to an extensive freeway network, which is in the process of undergoing a major expansion. Four major Interstate highways and numerous secondary Interstate routes and US routes serve the region:
- Interstate highways
I-40, the primary east-west route across the region. In the eastern Triad, it is conjoined with I-85. The two routes split in Greensboro. I-40 Business (Green-40), runs through Kernersville and Winston-Salem. It is a former alignment of I-40. The segment of I-40 running through Greensboro also briefly bore the designation "Business 40" following the opening of the Greensboro Western Urban Loop in February, 2008; it was re-designated as I-40 later that year for the state to continue receiving federal funding for it. I-840 (Painter Boulevard), part of the Greensboro Urban Loop, currently under construction. When complete, I-840 will form the northern half of the loop.
I-73, the primary north-south route across the region, much of which has yet to be constructed. The route follows the current US 220, with the exception of a small segment that shares the southwestern portion of the Greensboro Outer Loop, and was briefly designated as I-40 between its opening in February, 2008. This portion was originally designated as I-40, with the current and original I-40 being re-designated as Business 40. I-74, running across the region from southeast to northwest. Like I-73, much of the route has yet to be constructed, but several disjointed segments are currently open and signed as either I-74 or "FUTURE I-74". The route, when complete, will enter the region from the south conjoined with I-73, and will diverge from there north of Asheboro to follow the US 311 freeway through High Point. From there it leaves US 311 and forms the eastern segment of the Winston-Salem Beltway before joining US 52 and following it northwest out of the region. I-274, currently only in the planning stages, is the proposed designation for the western half of the Winston-Salem Beltway. I-85, connects the region to Charlotte and points southwest. Enters from the east conjoined with I-40, and splits from that route in Greensboro. I-85 Business (Green-85), a former alignment of I-85 between Lexington and Greensboro, consists of a former temporary alignment of I-85 that contains some non-freeway portions. A former northern segment, which received its designation when a new I-85 was opened as part of the Greensboro Urban Loop, is entirely freeway. I-285, connecting Winston-Salem to Lexington, is currently part of the US 52 freeway being upgraded to Interstate standards. I-785, connecting Greensboro to Danville, Virginia, the route is under development. It is currently part of US 29, much of which is not Interstate standard.
- US highways
US 29 runs roughly northeast to southwest across the region. Most of the route is either currently, or planned to be, co-signed with Interstate highways, including I-785 and I-85 Business. US 52, nominally an east-west highway, runs primarily north-south through the region, serving as the main north-south freeway route through Winston-Salem. The entire freeway is planned for upgrade to Interstate standards. North of Winston-Salem the route is scheduled to become part of I-74 (a small segment near Mount Airy is currently signed as I-74), while south of the city it is cosigned with I-285. US 64 is an east-west highway through the southern Triad, connecting Asheboro, Lexington, and Mocksville. US 70 is an east-west highway that closely parallels I-85 through the entire region. US 158 runs roughly northeast-southwest across the region, terminating in Mocksville near the intersection of US 64 and I-40. US 220 is currently the primary north-south route through Greensboro; the entire route is scheduled to be upgraded to or bypassed by I-73. US 311 is a nominally north-south route that runs northeast-southwest between Danville, VA and Winston-Salem. Most of the former alignment south of Winston-Salem has been upgraded as part of I-74; signs currently remain on much of this alignment. US 421 enters the region from the southeast, and joins I-85 in Greensboro. It then takes I-85 South to I-73 North to western Greensboro. The route is then co-signed with either I-40 Business or I-40 through the region to the west. After leaving Greensboro, it continues through Winston-Salem, the rural area of Yakdinville, and continues into Wilkesboro.
Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) is the Triad's 10-county regional organization with the goal of enhancing all forms of transportation through regional cooperation. PART Express Bus provides express service to each major Triad city from Piedmont Triad International Airport, while Connections Express connects the Triad to Duke and UNC Medical Centers. PART also has Express Bus service to outlying counties that surround the Triad including Surry, Stokes, Davidson, Yadkin, and Randolph Counties and soon to be Davie County. PART is also administering and developing several rail service studies that include both commuter and intercity rail. (Additional information on PART can be found at PART's website.)
The region is served by the Piedmont Triad Regional Council (PTRC). The PTRC was formed by the merger of the Northwest Piedmont Council of Governments and Piedmont Triad Council of Governments on July 1, 2011. The PTRC is a membership organization of the 12 counties and 62 municipalities in the Triad region. The website is "www.ptrc.org".
The Piedmont Triad has several protected areas, which lay entirely or partly in the region:
- Blue Ridge Parkway, partly within Surry and Wilkes counties
- Deep River State Trail, partly within Guilford and Randolph counties
- Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Guilford County
- Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County
- Haw River State Park, Guilford and Rockingham counties
- Mayo River State Park, Rockingham County
- Mountains-to-Sea Trail, partly within Alamance, Forsyth, Guilford, Stokes, Surry, and Wilkes counties
- Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, partly within Surry and Wilkes counties
- Pilot Mountain State Park, Surry and Yadkin counties
- Uwharrie National Forest, Davidson, Montgomery and Randolph counties
- Yadkin River State Trail, partly within Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties
The following are prominent newspapers in the Piedmont Triad region and the counties each newspaper covers.
- Greensboro News & Record, Guilford County
- ¨Hola Noticias¨, The Triad
- Winston-Salem Journal, Forsyth County
- Burlington Times-News, Alamance County
- Mebane Enterprise, Alamance County
- Courier-Tribune, Randolph County
- Thomasville Times, Davidson County
- The Dispatch, Davidson County
- High Point Enterprise, High Point, Guilford County
- Archdale-Trinity News, Randolph County
- The Stokes News, Stokes County
- The Reidsville Review, Rockingham County
- The Tribune, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties
- Mount Airy News, Surry County
- YES! Weekly, Guilford County, Forsyth County
- Triad City Beat, Guilford County, Forsyth County
- Rhino Times, Guilford County
- The Jamestown News, Guilford County
- The Stokesdale News, Guilford County
- Northwest Observer, Guilford County
All of the Piedmont Triad region belongs to the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point television designated market area (DMA). The following are stations that broadcast to this DMA. These stations are listed by call letters, virtual channel number, network and city of license.
- WFMY-TV, 2, CBS, Greensboro
- WGHP, 8, Fox, High Point
- WXII, 12, NBC, Winston-Salem
- Spectrum News, 14, Greensboro (Charter Communications)
- WGPX, 16, Ion, Burlington
- WCWG, 20, CW, Lexington
- WUNL-TV, 26, PBS/UNC-TV, Winston-Salem
- WLXI-TV, 43, TCT, Greensboro
- WXLV-TV, 45, ABC, Winston-Salem
- WGSR-LD, 47, Independent, Reidsville
- WMYV, 48, My, Greensboro
- "Population Estimates 2012 Combined Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on March 17, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-14.