Stokes County October 2022


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation

Our visit to Stokes County began at the Stokes County Center for Forsyth Tech Community College (Forsyth Tech) in Walnut Cove. The Stokes County Center’s front door opens up to a beautiful view of the Sauratown Mountains.

Stokes County sits just north of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. It is known for being the home of Hanging Rock State Park and the Dan River. The county’s population amounted to nearly 45,000 residents in the last census.

Forsyth Tech offers several programs at the Stokes Center including a building for the skilled trades, an evening program aimed at Licensed Practical Nurses and they have other classroom space available. Forsyth Tech also offers an early college model in Stokes County that allows students to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

Stokes County manager Shannon Shaver opened our conversation by walking us through an outline of the county’s history and more recent developments.

Stokes County experienced what Shaver described as a “significant uptick” in tourism during COVID-19 as outdoor recreation became more of an emphasis. Hanging Rock’s popularity saw a 48 percent increase in visitors during the pandemic according to Shaver. Between the tourists coming to Hanging Rock and the Dan River for outdoor recreation and the growth in Forsyth County, Shaver believes Stokes is poised for an uptick in growth.

In preparation for growth, Stokes County is trying to tackle a series of interrelated issues including a lack of internet connectivity in broad swaths of the county, housing availability and issues around corporate infrastructure including water/sewage hookups.

Foster care is another challenge in Stokes County. Shaver told us, “We simply do not have enough foster parents in this county to meet the need.”

Shaver noted the other emphasis moving forward is a focus on attracting industry to Stokes County so fewer workers have to commute to surrounding counties to work. Forsyth Tech’s ability to train workers will also play a role in business recruitment.

Forsyth Tech president Janet Spriggs also joined us. Spriggs said Forsyth Tech’s vision is to be “a place of promise for everyone in our community.”

In order to make this vision a reality, Spriggs said the college continues to focus on all elements of equity in education.

“It is not enough to provide equitable access. We must also provide equitable outcomes for our students,” declared Spriggs. In order to provide equitable outcomes, Forsyth Tech is working to produce a culture of belonging by focusing on reducing barriers for adult learners, students with children and working students. In order to do this, Forsyth Tech would like to provide transportation and access to health care and childcare on campus.

“Equity is part of our DNA in our counties. It isn’t just bolted on,” shared Spriggs. “We want Stokes County, and all of the communities we serve, to be a place of promise for all of our residents.”

Meet Dr. Algie Gatewood

Dr. Algie Gatewood is only the fourth President to lead Alamance Community College (ACC) since it opened in 1958. During Dr. Gatewood’s tenure at ACC, the college won its largest ever bond referendum – nearly $40 million – in 2018 to fund a number of major capital projects and expansions. The college also secured $16 million in county funding in 2014 to build the Advanced Applied Technology Center. Other notable accomplishments include creating a Biotechnology Center of Excellence, introducing an Early College, facilitating an apprenticeship program, and introducing nearly two dozen new academic programs and articulation agreements with state universities.

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