Phil Shugart, President of Carolina Liquid Chemicals, introduces VP Joe Biden

October 8, 2021
Originally published June 6, 2012.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke Wednesday at Wake Forest Biotech Place in Winston-Salem, encouraging scientific research and highlighting the type of job creation needed in a changing economy. Biden spoke to a large crowd at a former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company facility that now houses cutting-edge biotechnology research. The location, which opened in February and is expected to bring 450 researchers and support staff to Piedmont Triad Research Park, served as an ideal backdrop for his message of American reinvention.

The move from the tobacco and agriculture industries to a knowledge-based economy has not been an easy one for Winston-Salem, with unemployment still hovering around 8.5 percent. Biden related the struggle of Winston-Salem to his hometown of Scranton, Penn., where the dissolution of steel manufacturing le the city struggling.

“And just like where I came from, you didn’t quit,” Biden said. “You all are fighters. The folks of North Carolina are fighters. American people are fighters. And this research park is evident that you are.”

Biden was introduced by Carolina Liquid Chemicals President Phil Shugart and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines. Shugart, whose company is located at Wake Forest Biotech Place, recounted the story of his father and grandfather growing tobacco in the same place that he would later build a chemical engineering plant.

That ability of the American economy to creatively adapt in a changing world is key, Biden said. One goal of the Obama administration, he said, is to get American unemployment back to pre-recession levels and present America as a major force for scientific development.

“Keep doing what you are doing here at this research park,” Biden said. “ This country is better positioned than any country in the world to come back.”

Biden, who appeared to be in campaign trail mindset, also discussed the Obama administration’s initiative to enact tax credits for companies that invest in renewable energy and noted incentives for companies to dismantle their factories overseas by offering a 20 percent tax credit to those that bring manufacturing back stateside.

North Carolina, which went for President Barack Obama in 2008, is expected to be a battleground state in November’s election contest between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.

“I think [Biden] did a great job of talking about the things that matter most to a state with such a changing economy, from agriculture to science,” said Robert Matchen, a Winston-Salem resident who attended the event. “I wish that other people on Capitol Hill would realize that we need to focus more on innovative and renewable research.”

Biden also indulged in a sweet treat in Winston-Salem, stopping at the frozen custard shop Wolfies. The vice president went with a double dip of vanilla and dark chocolate and chatted with patrons in the store.