Charleston Region Becoming Heavyweight in Technology Field

The Tech waters are warming up in the three-county region, which some pundits have dubbed Silicon Harbor.

A recent article in Fast Company magazine detailed the region’s tech ascent. Despite being the nation’s 75th largest metro area, it ranks as one of the top 10 fastest growing hubs of software and internet technology.

In recent years, the region’s collective efforts and energies have helped grow the sector. Among the factors Fast Company credited:

  • Growing critical mass: Born in the era, Benefitfocus is credited with spinning off nearly a dozen locally based software companies, including PeopleMatter. Today, a tech professional can relocate to the Charleston region, confident that abundant opportunities exist should they want to move on from their initial job opportunity.


  • Government investment: Among other things, SC Launch runs a seed fund offering up to $200,000 in growth capital. Meanwhile, investments in incubators like the Digital Corridor’s Flagship incubator (a City of Charleston initiative) have provided fertile patches from which to grow. After opening in  2009, Flagship currently counts 80 technology companies among its tenants. In 2011, says chief cheerleader Ernest  Andrade, 80% of the tenants had hired people, and 38% of them had doubled in size.


  • Charm: Armed with enviable resumes and the ability to chart their future course, tech pros can be pretty picky about where they’ll locate. The three county region has been earning plenty of praise for its positive lifestyle attributes for a long while; just ask Noah Everett, the founder of Twitpic, who chose to base his successful startup here for the love of the Lowcountry.

But everybody knows that past history is no indication of future performance, and many look to public/private partnerships to continue the momentum.

In his recent commentary in Statehouse Report publisher Andy Brack notes that statewide, college graduates armed with software development credentials receive numerous job offers. Opportunities outnumber available, homegrown talent.

“Wise investments by the state’s colleges in partnership with the tech industry could create the space and brainpower to fuel bigger programs that compete with the big boys of Silicon Valley and Boston,” he wrote. “ An investment of, say, $10 million to $15 million over the three programs at Clemson, the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston could double the annual capacity of techies to fill high-paying jobs. With new grads making $40,000 to $80,000 a year, such an investment would quickly pay for itself in various taxes paid by graduates. “

To our mind, the argument surely computes.

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