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The Beaufort Digital Corridor is a creative effort to attract, nurture and promote Beaufort's knowledge economy through a combination of technology-enabled initiatives and business incentives, private business support and member-driven programming.


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Beaufort Digital Corridor Brings Tech Hub To Lowcountry

Ian Leslie has lived in the Lowcountry for 15 years, and he's pretty tech savvy.

"We heard the Digital Corridor was coming to Beaufort.... it's very important to me to invest back in the knowledge economy. I think it's important for young professionals to have jobs to stay here for," Leslie said.

Leslie and his business partners signed on as soon as Beaufort Digital Corridor opened its doors less than two weeks ago; and they launched their first mobile app Monday.

"C'reer, its a career matchmaking app available on your iPhone or android device. Uh what it does is it delivers a vocational assessment to high school students, helps them figure out um their personality, what careers are the best match for them and then connects them to the best university or college that places professionals in those careers," Leslie said.

Tech startup like C'reer are exactly what the city of Beaufort had in mind when planning the Digital Corridor.

Beaufort City Councilman Stephen Murray spearheaded the project.

"The council took a very strong focus on economic development about 2 years ago and specifically how do we create more economic opportunity, better jobs, for people who have to work and live here," Murray said. "What this seeks to do is to try to bring a sense of technology community together to give them a formal place to meet on a monthly basis so that synergies and companies and ideas can develop bring folks together."

With funding from the city, Hargray, Beaufort County Council, South Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Municipal Association of South Carolina, they were able to raise nearly a quarter of a million dollars, partner with the Charleston Digital Corridor and make the BASEcamp office space reality in Beaufort.

The BASEcamp hub consists of 10 office spaces, ranging in size from one to six people, and in price from $300 to $800 a month, utilities, fiber optic internet and coffee included.

Murray says it's time to for Beaufort to catch up with the rest of U.S. cities.

"I really think we are at risk of becoming a sleepy little retirement village and I don't think anybody whether its a young professional or a retiree wants that for our community so programs like this in trying to create opportunity for people are really important for who we are and who we want to be in the future."

And while the office spaces are reserved for tech startup companies, everyone in the community can be part of the innovation. Anyone can buy a yearly membership for $99 and get access to Friday networking events and the conference room.

"We'll have monthly Fridays at the corridor and have a guest speaker and we'll alternate topics, so one month, we'll talk about business development and how to grow your business, and the next month will be something on technology and emerging technology trends."

Currently, two offices are rented out. One to Leslie, and the other to University of South Carolina Beaufort computational professor, Brian Canada, who brings in students to work on projects.

To find out more about the Beaufort Digital Corridor, visit their website at www.beaufortdigital.com or call 843-470-3506.

See the WSAV-TV news coverage here

Beaufort, SC Digital Marketing Firm Receives Silver ADDY Award For Creative Excellence in Advertising

Picklejuice Productions announced today that they are the proud recipient of the American Advertising Federation's Silver ADDY Award for their design of a holiday e-card series for Beaufort's Regional Chamber of Commerce. The six-card series features whimsical illustrations of the coastal Carolina town's most iconic themes, keyed to holiday messages, which could be shared digitally to family and friends.

"This is the advertising industry's largest and most representative competition for creative excellence in the region," said Picklejuice founder and chief executive, Ginger Wareham, who designed the holiday series for the Chamber. "Receiving this recognition is a great honor for both Picklejuice Productions and Beaufort's Chamber of Commerce."

"The city of Beaufort works hard to preserve and promote both our heritage and our coastal lifestyle," said Robb Wells, Vice President for Tourism in the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce. "Picklejuice's take on our holiday card perfectly captures that. Residents and visitors alike are always looking for ways to share what they love most about our city. We wanted a holiday card that they could download, customize and send online."

The Picklejuice team received the Silver ADDY Award at the American Advertising Federation's Midlands Chapter Awards Gala on February 18 in Columbia, SC. The AAF represents the interests of all facets of advertising: advertisers, agencies, suppliers and media. The AAF is based in Washington, D.C. and has more than 40,000 members through 200 local advertising clubs.

Vireo Labs Co-founders - Jose Mallabo & Ian Leslie

Vireo Labs Creates Connective App For Students, Higher Ed

Considering what career path to take can be daunting for a college graduate, let alone a ninth-grader just entering high school.

But a tech company based out of the city's newest venture, the Beaufort Digital Corridor BASEcamp, is creating a simpler way to connect students to their futures.

Ian Leslie of Vireo Labs says the startup's first product, C'reer, was developed as a way to help students and higher education institutions. "We learn. We suggest. You explore and connect," is how the mobile application is described.

Leslie said C'reer provides a 20-question assessment that a student can complete in about five minutes, giving high school guidance counselors another tool for the career planning part of their jobs.

"Guidance counselors have a huge workload, from career planning to addressing emotional and behavioral issues, along with academic problems," Leslie said.

"There's really a gap there in helping students find a career path, and the tools needed to help with career planning sometimes come at a high cost to the schools. To help solve that problem, we've created this free app that creates a profile for the student based on their personality and shows a list of careers within that profile."

Students can see whether they are considered "entrepreneurial, realistic or artistic," which jobs are geared toward that classification and the best colleges and universities to attend to prepare for that career.

"The way we recommend those schools is through a proprietary algorithm," Leslie said. "We've pulled in data from sources and have a formula that provides the recommended schools largely based on how they place professionals into those certain careers, but also factors in school indebtedness of post-graduates and the default rate on loans."

Once a student finishes the profile, it is up to him or her whether to connect to the university suggested–- which brings in the other side of the C'reer product.

Leslie says the college recruitment process is expensive.

"To recruit a student, the college or university needs them to stay a very long time before they can actually make money on that student," he said.

By using the C'reer app or web portal, a college can discover students who are "raising their hand that they are serious and interested in attending," Leslie said.

"But we're not just providing the college with the name of the student who is interested; we're actually giving a way for them to live chat with those students. It is all student-initiated, so the student must opt in and say they want to chat with the school," Leslie said.

Since launching C'reer last month, Vireo Labs has had more than 500 downloads through Apple and Google Play. The company is networking with guidance counselors in 40 states to push for more students to use the tool in preparing for their future.

The digital corridor is connecting the startup with potential investors while providing office space and local connections to the University of South Carolina Beaufort and Technical College of the Lowcountry.

Leslie and his partner Jose Mallabo hosted the first "Fridays at the Corridor" forum last week, using it to advocate for C'reer and show how BASEcamp is providing new opportunities for tech businesses.

"It's an opportunity to put a good foot forward for the corridor and show early success for this initiative," Leslie said.

Corridor program manager Karen Warner said the "Fridays at the Corridor" events will be held the second Friday of every month to keep the doors open to the community.

"We want to invite them in to showcase these businesses that are part of the fastest-growing job market," Warner said.

As a resident of Port Royal since 2002, Leslie has had to drive to Savannah for job opportunities. He is encouraged by the corridor's goal to diversify the Lowcountry's economy for professionals like himself.

"We are talking to USCB about internships on the developer and programming side of Vireo Labs, and that's a great start. When we become able to hire, we hope that to find that talent locally. And it's all about just putting Beaufort on the map," Leslie said.

"The more we can grow this economy, the better. I'm excited to be a part of that."

To learn more about C'reer, go to www.creer.us. To learn more about the Beaufort Digital Corridor, go to www.beaufortdigital.com.

South Carolina Commerce Plans Marketing Push To Grow Tech Sector

Charleston's technology sector has quietly grown larger than one of the region's largest and most prominent employers, Boeing Co. In the Upstate, tech workers outnumber BMW's headcount.

But in both cities, the big-name manufacturers get more attention. And both were attracted here with big incentive packages from the state government. Read More:

Vireo Labs First Startup To Move Into BASEcamp Incubator In Beaufort, SC

The Beaufort Digital Corridor (BDC) today announced that Vireo Labs will be the first tech startup to move into BASEcamp - Beaufort's premier business incubator and co-working office designed to meet the transitional professional office needs of tech and knowledge-based entrepreneurs seeking adaptable, affordable office and conference facilities of the highest quality.

Vireo Labs is a career focused education technology startup founded in 2015. The founding team is leveraging its higher education, ecommerce and mobile experience from SCAD, eBay, Amazon and LinkedIn into the development of its first mobile product, C'reer, to address the $7 billion recruitment marketing segment in the U.S.

C'reer – available on both the iOS and Android platforms – will be launched this month by Vireo Labs.

"Locating to Beaufort's BASEcamp is really the fulfillment of what C'reer tries to accomplish for all who use it," said Vireo Labs co-founder and CMO, Ian Leslie. "C'reer is about connecting people with the career of their dreams and the school that will get them there, while BASEcamp and the Digital Corridor are working hard to bring new opportunities to the Beaufort region while expanding the knowledge economy."

By locating to Beaufort, Vireo Labs will also gain access to the network of entrepreneurs and professionals in Charleston, South Carolina. "It is humbling and validating to have Vireo Labs make the decision to commence operations at BASEcamp the same day the facility is being dedicated," said Ernest Andrade, BDC's Executive Director. "This tech start-up is the first of more tech and knowledge-based companies we expect will populate the recently renovated facility in downtown Beaufort."

Vireo Labs joins the University of South Carolina Beaufort, who has also established an office for a faculty member in their Computational Science program. "Our goal is to stimulate collaboration between our students and the tech entrepreneurs located at BASEcamp," said Assistant Professor, Brian Canada. 

Beaufort Announces BASEcamp Business Incubator In Effort To Grow Lowcountry Tech Economy

The Beaufort Digital Corridor formally opens its doors to the BASEcamp business incubator on January 12, 2017. This recently renovated facility, located at 500 Carteret Street in downtown Beaufort has been developed to help early-stage technology and knowledge-based companies take flight.  The ribbon cutting is set for January 12th from 5:30-7:30 pm.  

"The Beaufort Digital Corridor is the right idea at the right time and certainly the right place," said Beaufort City Councilman Stephen Murray, the driving force with setting up the new project. "Our Lowcountry lifestyle, our outdoor environment, our history and our determination all make us a perfect location for tech start-ups.

"With high speed Internet and all the ways to communicate that didn't exist 20 years ago, it's not necessary for most technology firms to be located in Atlanta, New York or other big cities. They can enjoy the Beaufort lifestyle and still get the job done," Murray said.

The Beaufort Digital Corridor follows the lead of the Charleston Digital Corridor, which in 15 years has seen its tech economy grow from 18 companies in 2001 to 375+ companies at the end of 2016. With an average wage of $88,066, pay at tech companies in Charleston is almost twice the regional and state wages.

"We think there is absolutely a need for this type of incubator, not only to help new Lowcountry tech firms and people operating out of their homes get a good start, but also as a way to attract start-ups from other areas of country where it might be below freezing this time of year," Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop said. 

"New businesses often need support and guidance to survive and thrive, and that's what the Beaufort Digital Corridor team will provide," he said. "Their work in Charleston has been tremendously successful."

The Beaufort Digital Corridor recently hired Karen Warner as Program Manager . Learn more about the Beaufort Digital Corridor HERE

Municipal Association of South Carolina Announces Hometown Economic Development Grant Recipients

Eight cities and towns across the state were recently awarded a Hometown Economic Development Grant by the Municipal Association of South Carolina. The grants are to implement economic development projects that will make a positive impact on the quality of life in their communities. The grant program also promotes and recognizes innovation in economic development practices.

The Municipal Association board of directors created this grant program last year to fund projects that will produce measurable results, can be maintained over time and illustrate best practices for that can be replicated in other cities.

Beaufort, Clinton, Gaffney, Manning, Ridgeway, Walterboro, West Pelzer and Pelzer, and Williamston are this year's grant recipients. Each municipality will receive $25,000 to implement a project ranging from community master plans and retail recruitment to downtown revitalization and tourism development.

Cities and towns receiving the grant must provide matching funds. Matching amounts, determined by a city's population, will range from 5 percent to 15 percent of the grant award. Cities can use in-kind contributions or other grant funds as their match. Seventy-six municipalities applied for the grants.

An awards committee comprised of former local government and state agency professionals evaluated grant applications. Cities and towns receiving a grant must submit reports about the progress and successes of each grant-funded project and provide financial details of how the grant funds were used.

"These grants will help our cities and towns continue to strengthen their economic development efforts to attract and retain businesses to downtowns," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association."

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