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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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Louis Hodges, Owner and Co-founder of Greenbug

Greenbug's Hodges: The Greatest Challenge is Also the Greatest Opportunity

Louise Hodges is owner and co-founder of Greenbug, Inc. Founded in 2010 by Louise and her husband, Dan, Greenbug offers pest control solutions using an active ingredient of cedar. Greenbug products are food-grade and do not need a pesticide license to apply. Greenbug also offers the Greenbug System, which delivers the product directly into customers' irrigation lines.

Where did you grow up?

I'm originally from Charlotte, N.C., but grew up in Colorado. I absolutely love both places. They're full of wonderful friends and family.

How did you come to be in Beaufort?

My mom and step-father moved to Fripp Island in the early '80s, and my husband and I got married there in 1985. Whenever we would leave the area, we were sad. When our daughters were getting ready to change schools (one going into middle school and one going into high school), one of them suggested we move to Beaufort. So, our adventure began!

What was your first job, or most memorable early job? What did you learn from it?

I worked at The Limited all through high school, way back when it was still a privately held company. I wanted the job to get a discount on clothes but ended up doing well – I was on the Top 10 Sales List for the whole country and the vice president of the company came to our store to meet me. That was amazing and let me know I could accomplish whatever I wanted to!

Did you have an entrepreneurial drive early on, or did you acquire it through experiences?

Unlike many entrepreneurs, I can work well under others but have felt compelled to go it alone when I see an unmet need. I started a landscape design/build firm in Charlotte, which happily employed my husband and myself (plus dozens of others) before moving to Beaufort. While we had planned on continuing that in Beaufort, the economic nightmare of 2008 squashed that idea and we had to reinvent ourselves. After creating wonderful outdoor spaces for customers in Charlotte, we realized people didn't spend as much time in their yards in Beaufort and the reason was due to bugs. Instead of toxic, synthetic chemicals, we came up with Greenbug using cedar as the active ingredient. It was a no-brainer – effective pest control products that are safe and green.

In your own words, what does your company do?

We offer pest control solutions using alternatives to chemical pesticides.

What lessons have you learned from good bosses? Bad bosses?

I've had them all! Great bosses listen and encourage. Bad bosses cut corners and pass the buck. I have had the pleasure of working for some great people for which I am very grateful!

What's the hardest or most important lesson you've learned in business?

There are no short cuts, no quick fixes, no substitutions for effort.

What's the biggest misconception about being an entrepreneur?

That is an easy question ... that you don't really work. I have always worked so much more, longer hours, nights, weekends, etc. as an entrepreneur. Work doesn't stop because it is after 5 p.m.!

Do you have a morning routine? How do you start and end your day?

There is no such thing as a typical day! I like to exercise and must do it early in the day if it is going to happen. Night time is dinner and hopefully some Netflix or reading before going to bed. Unless there are emails to answer.

What obstacles have you faced building your business? How have you overcome them?

The greatest challenge with Greenbug is also the greatest opportunity. We offer pest control solutions that are natural, safe and effective. But if I had a nickel for every time someone said, "Well, if it is natural, I doubt it works." Wait, what? We are David vs. Goliath with huge chemical companies telling everyone that toxic chemicals are safe and absolutely fine.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Go for it! Live your dream! And don't listen to the naysayers!

What do you see as the future of your company?

I see Greenbug becoming the go-to, standard solution for all bugs, kind of like Kleenex is the go-to for tissues. The Greenbug System is phenomenal for controlling all pests and will become standard for home construction and anywhere people gather.

How do you prevent burnout?

Practicing being grateful. Every order and every Greenbug System is a gift where I am helping others solve pest control without using poisons.

What one person has been the biggest influence on your business life? And why?

My wonderful husband, Dan. We have worked together for many years, which not all couples can do. I brainstorm all sorts of ideas and then he makes them happen, so I say he makes all my dreams come true!

What inspires you?

I am inspired by people who work really hard without any fanfare. If anyone knows me, they know I am a HUGE fan of college football (especially Clemson). Those guys work so hard for months on end just for a chance to play a game they love. They do most of the hard work away from spotlights and adoration to prepare for just a chance to shine.

Are you a Mac or a PC? iPhone or Android?

PC. Definitely Android – had an iPhone for a while and did not like it at all ... much to the chagrin of the rest of my family.

What's a book you always recommend?

"Animal Speak". It explains the wisdom and messages from all sorts of creatures in nature. I personally refer to it several times a week. We are always receiving insight if we are open to it.

What is your usual Starbucks (or other restaurant/pub) order?

Not a coffee drinker but sure love my Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea!

Outside of work what keeps you busy?

We have season tickets to Clemson football so that is a lot of our fall fun. Outside of that, I love to prune plants, cook, and go out in the boat.

Game Design Classes Expanding In Beaufort

A Beaufort High school teacher, who teaches game design and animation, will soon share his knowledge for any area students through a new series offered at the Beaufort Digital Corridor.

Seth Konoza, who's taught game design at BHS for five years now, will lead the course on Saturdays from 9am-12pm from October 14th to November 18th. It's available for any students with interest. Information on how to sign up can be found here.

Konoza's Beaufort High students found him to be a teacher who truly speaks their language.

"How many of you have ever played Five Nights at Freddy's?" he asked, followed by a show of hands.

The game-design teacher once walked the same halls as a teen, then came back five years ago, launching the class. He said it combines skills from various subjects. "You need to be good at math, you need to be good at physics, you need to understand how to physically write code and you also need have an imagination," Konoza said.

Konoza teaches one of only two classes like it in the district. He thinks it's crucial the kids get the foundation of the concepts now, to prepare for future opportunities in the field that are only going to grow with time. "Game designers can start pay at $60,000 a year and as they progress they can go into the hundreds," he said.

Dust Solutions, Inc. To Build In Commerce Park

The investment on Hargray' s part was one of the key factors in the City being able to announce tonight the first new manufacturing company to build and expand their business in Commerce Park.

Dust Solutions, Inc. has made the decision to expand and build its new production facility in Beaufort's Commerce Park. A manufacturer of environmental technology, Dust Solutions, Inc. (DSI) works with industrial clients around the world to resolve fugitive dust challenges in complex and critical work environments. They will bring to the Commerce Park a new 12,000-15,000 square ft. state of the art manufacturing facility and will employ 20 plus employees. Headed by Richard Posner, President and Aura Posner, Vice President, the new Beaufort facility will house corporate, engineering and production functions along with sales offices located in Vancouver, Washington; Santiago, Chile; and Manila, Philippines.

Aura Posner stated "when evaluating DSI's location strategy, our team assessed several factors including availability of infrastructure, access to well-established and growing transportation corridors for our international business, and importantly, active participation by state and local government and infrastructure partners to support our mission and growth. The City of Beaufort's commitment to supporting manufacturing businesses such as DSI was integral in our decision-making process."

Dust Solutions, Inc., known to the Beaufort economic team members as Project "Catalyst," made its decision to move to the Commerce Park after meetings with Councilman Murray's team, the project developer and contractor, and Hargray executives who provided the assurances that High Speed Fiber would be made available in the Commerce Park.

Bill Prokop, City Manager for the City of Beaufort stated "it has been a pleasure working closely with the Posner's over the last several months to be sure that the City could provide the needs for their expansion. They have a great company and it is going to be the "Poster Child" for further development in our Commerce Park. We welcome them to the City of Beaufort."

Stephen Murray stated, "Economic Development and the creation of new well-paying jobs is one of our key goals as a City and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to work with the Posner's and I am confident that the code name that we gave them of "Catalyst" will be factual and will lead to other new companies joining us in Commerce Park and I thank them for their future investment and confidence in our City."

Hargray Awards City of Beaufort Grant for Infrastructure improvements

The City of Beaufort announced today that it was awarded a three hundred ($300,000) thousand-dollar grant by Hargray Communications, Inc. for road and infrastructure improvements in Commerce Park. This grant meets the requirements of South Carolina Part C: General Business Credits, Section 17 Credits against license fee for Infrastructure, Code 12-20-105 and its various sub regulations. Hargray' s executive team which is based in the lowcountry understands the importance of economic development.

Furthermore, Hargray has also agreed to partner with the City in the efforts to bring an advanced fiber-optic infrastructure to Commerce Park. We recognize that broadband access is no longer a "nice-to-have" it is a "must-have" for businesses that need to maximize productivity and efficiency in a competitive market place.

To further the partnership between Hargray and the City they are also bringing high speed Wi-Fi service to the Henry C. Chambers Park in downtown Beaufort. Hargray understands that without an advanced communications infrastructure, economic development efforts will be hampered and we are very pleased to be part of the City of Beaufort's revitalization and economic development plans and programs. Mayor Billy Keyserling thanked Hargray for the grant and for their support in improving the infrastructure throughout the City. This shows what can be accomplished with effective public/private partnerships.

Know a Kid Who’s Really Into Video Games? This Beaufort Program Can Train Them For a Job.

A Beaufort initiative to sell young students on computer science has just the hook –- video games.

Middle school and high school students interested in game design and development can enroll in a six-week course taught by Seth Konoza, a game design and animation teacher at Beaufort High School.

The classes will be offered at the Beaufort Digital Corridor's office on Carteret Street on Saturdays from Oct. 14 until Nov. 18. Among the topics will be game strategy, maze and puzzle design and a final project.

The program, called "Game On," is the Digital Corridor's first education offering. The partnership between the city and founders of the Charleston Digital Corridor aims to grow high-paying jobs and a tech-savvy workforce.

"With the growth of technology jobs including software, cybersecurity and cloud computing, getting our kids interested in a career in computer science at an early age is very important," director Ernest Andrade said in a statement.

The course costs $79, and some need-based scholarships are available. More information is available at www.beaufortdigital.com.

Beaufort Digital Corridor to Offer Game Design and Development Class

The Beaufort Digital Corridor is pleased to announce the launch of Game On - a code education program geared toward middle and high school students who would like to learn the practice of game design and development. Game On will introduce students to the theory, tools, and practice required to create their own games.

The six-week course will be taught by Seth Konoza, a Games, Computer Graphics and Animation educator from Beaufort High School. This course will be held at the Beaufort Digital Corridor's BASEcamp facility on Saturdays from 9am-12pm from October 14 to November 18, 2017.

Game On represents the start of the Beaufort Digital Corridor's education programming. "With the growth of technology jobs including software, cybersecurity and cloud computing, getting our kids interested in a career in computer science at an early age is very important," said Beaufort Digital Corridor Director, Ernest Andrade. "We expect to work with our education partners to offer more classes in technology with the goal to build a 21st century workforce in the Lowcountry."

A limited number of needs-based scholarships are available thanks to the generous support from InterDev. Learn more about Game On and register HERE

South Carolina Coding School Closes After Four Years

Peter Barth is confident that six months from now Greenville will have another coding school. He just won't be running it.

Barth, founder and CEO of The Iron Yard, a Greenville-based coding "bootcamp" and programming school, and the board announced in July that the coding school which once boasted 20 to 25 campuses stretching across the United States would cease operations by the year's end.

The announcement on the school's website called it a "difficult decision to cease operations at all campuses after teaching out remaining summer cohorts."

It was the second major coding school to announce it was closing this year. San Francisco-based Dev Bootcamp, launched in 2012 and later bought by Kaplan, will graduate its last class in December.

The Iron Yard's board included Barth; Eric Dodds, its chief marketing officer; and three representatives from the Apollo Education Group, a privately owned corporation headquartered in Phoenix that owns for-profit colleges, including the University of Phoenix.

Barth said he couldn't speak about the board's deliberations related to the decision to close or whether the board's vote was unanimous.

Apollo on June 11, 2015, acquired a 62 percent interest of The Iron Yard for $15.9 million, according to a 2016 Apollo Group annual report.

In recent years, Apollo has found itself entangled in growing financial issues, declining enrollment and lawsuits, USA Today reported. In a first quarter 2017 report, the company reported net revenue of $484.5 million, compared with $586 million in the first quarter of 2016.

First-quarter new degreed enrollment at the University of Phoenix was 20,200 and total degreed enrollment was 135,900, according to a statement, respective decreases of 17 percent and 23 percent from the same period last year. The statement also said operating income for the 2017 first quarter was $8.4 million, compared with an operating loss of $45.2 million for the first quarter last year.

Apollo was acquired in a $1.1 billion deal in February by the Vistria Group and Apollo Global Management, an unrelated company.

Barth said increased regulations did not play a direct role in the decision to close Iron Yard.

"I think just as an industry in general, for-profits were out of favor under the last (Obama) administration," he said. The attitude shifted, he said, when President Donald Trump took the Oval Office in January.

Former President Barack Obama in 2014 announced new federal rules targeting issues of cost and debt at for-profit colleges. But in June, the U.S. Education Department sought to freeze Obama-era changes that would speed up erasing federal loan debt of student borrowers, as reported by The New York Times.

A Coding Bootcamp Market Size Study for 2017, led by Course Report, found coding bootcamps expected to graduate nearly 23,000 students and grow by 52 percent this year based on responses from nearly 100 percent of U.S. and Canadian coding schools.

The $260 million industry is in its fifth year, and the number of bootcamp programs has grown to 22,949 students expected to graduate this year compared with 2,178 students in 2013.

Barth, 40, started The Iron Yard in 2013 after leading several successful startups.

He was a computer science major at Vanderbilt University in Nashville for a couple of years, but never earned a degree, instead dropping out his second year. When he left he became a stockbroker and later a software entrepreneur.

Barth and his family moved to Greenville almost 11 years ago, primarily for a better quality of life.

In Greenville, he became involved in NEXT, an arm of the Greenville County Chamber of Commerce, that plays an active role in the growth of knowledge-based companies in the Upstate.

Within a year of NEXT taking off, Barth took on a leadership role and co-led a number of projects, such as building the NEXT Innovation Center off University Ridge.

The Iron Yard started as a startup accelerator out of the NEXT Innovation Center. The company started in the summer of 2012 and the coding school came next in 2013. It later split from the accelerator in 2014.

The Iron Yard was not initially founded to open as a coding school, but it quickly became the first and only coding school in Greenville, and was one of the early coding schools in the Southeast and in the country, said 31-year-old Dodds.

In spring 2014, Iron Yard added campuses in Charleston and Atlanta. Three months later, branches opened in Durham and Houston, then another three months later in Orlando and Tampa.

The following year, the company opened more campuses in Texas, launching in new cities every three months.

Apollo's investment helped to escalate campus openings.

Apollo had already started operations in Phoenix and was working on one in London. Barth said Iron Yard didn't assume operations in Phoenix, but did take over the London campus, which eventually closed.

"Economically, it never worked. It was so expensive," Barth said.

In fall 2016, The Iron Yard closed the Detroit campus and five more campus closings followed early this year.

That left the Iron Yard with 15 in-person campuses across the country, including in Charlotte, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Nashville.

"Definitely kind of a surprise we ended up where we ended," Barth said.

Code school critics

Barth and Dodds waved off criticism of coding schools, a trend that followed as for-profit coding schools dotted parts of the U.S. in the last several years.

A Bloomberg article published last year, titled "Want a Job in Silicon Valley? Keep Away From Coding Schools," warned potential students from enrolling due to piling debt and lack of preparation for tech jobs.

Both Barth and Dodds said they're aware of the coding school criticism. Part of that, both said, stemmed from competitors that were small, unlicensed and unorganized.

There was also the sticker shock.

Tuition for the 12-week course at Iron Yard could cost nearly $14,000. The Course Report study said coding school tuition can range from free to $24,000. The average tuition is $11,469.

Most Iron Yard students were between the ages of 25 to 35 and were looking to transition out of prior careers, Dodds said.

Dodds said Iron Yard wasn't necessarily a replacement for a four-year college degree, but he said Iron Yard students were paying drastically cheaper per hour with more one-on-one time with their instructors.

Jose Vidal, a professor and undergraduate director at the College of Engineering and Computing at the University of South Carolina, has been teaching a senior capstone course to undergrad seniors for the past three years.

Most USC students in the College of Engineering and Computing start as freshmen, but the department does get transfer students from technical schools, he said.

In a senior survey taken in the spring, Vidal said most graduating seniors had job offers before graduation, with the median starting salary at $69,000. Others went on to graduate school.

Vidal said some seniors went to work at Google, Amazon or Microsoft, though the majority stay within a 100-mile radius of South Carolina, working in Charleston or Charlotte.

While the department doesn't survey corporations, companies Vidal has talked to at career fairs told him they are looking for traits beyond just programming skills, such as good personal skills and sometimes knowledge of business and accounting.

Whether he would recommend a coding school to a student, Vidal said it depends on the person, though he leans on the value of an undergraduate degree. Vidal has taken online classes before, and said he could see himself enrolling in coding school programs.

"You can certainly get a job without a degree. ... Half of the people working on software don't have degrees in computer science. That's always been true," he said. "It's always been the case that demand for programmers has exceeded the number of degrees granted."

What's next?

There's no amount of coding to answer what's next for Barth, Dodds or the coding scene in Greenville.

Since Iron Yard's closing announcement, Barth said he's received phone calls inquiring whether the school's shutdown means the tech scene is going away.

"No," Barth said flatly.

As far as the concrete campuses go, Barth said a few Iron Yard employees will hang around until early 2018, but his or Dodd's next venture remains to be discovered.

"We will definitely be involved in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem," said Barth, who will stay on the boards of NEXT and ChartSpan, a successful medical start-up created out of Iron Yard. "I'm fully committed to Greenville," he said.

Dodds is, too. He closed on a home in Greenville in August.

"It really has been pretty cool to build a company in Greenville, and we love it here," Dodds said.

Barth said both have received several job inquiries, but all focus on major cities such as San Francisco and New York.

"Not interested. I want to be here," Barth said, admitting the reality, however, that most companies in Greenville are not looking for their next CEO or chief operating office.

Life after Iron Yard definitely brought a grieving period, Dodds said. But both said the positive feedback brought by current students and some of the roughly 3,000 alumni has been comforting.

"It's extremely sad and difficult, but I think that was a rare opportunity to look back and see the effect we've had," Dodds said. "... (It's a) privilege to be a part of it."

Other options

The Iron Yard expanded to Charleston in 2014. It set up shop near Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant before relocating to Princess Street on the peninsula.

While the Greenville-based operation is shutting down, other options will still be available in the local area for fledgling techies: JRS Coding School, founded by Jack Russell Software, now runs a boot camp in Mount Pleasant. And the Charleston Digital Corridor offers code classes for adults and kids through its CODEcamp program.

Upcoming Events

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iOS Bootcamp

This iOS bootcamp is nine weeks, Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:30pm at Jolly Goblin Games and is tuition-free for students. This would be a great time for anyone interested to participate. Apply HERE

Game On!

Game On! is a code education program geared toward middle and high school students who would like to learn the practice of game design and development. Over this six-session program, students will learn the theory, tools, and practice required to create their own games. Learn more/Register HERE.

Coworking @ the Corridor

Join the entrepreneurial movement. Want to work alongside like-minded people and check out what's going on at Beaufort Digital Corridor's BASEcamp?

Join us for Coworking @ The Corridor on Friday, Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Spend the day working out of BASEcamp, Beaufort's premier business incubator and co-working office. Pick a desk, settle in and check out the BDC community.

High-speed Wi-Fi and access to conference space is included. And we may just throw in some coffee and donuts.

No RSVP necessary: Walk-ins welcome and bring a friend!

Fridays @ the Corridor

You don't have to look far before you'll see someone walking around with their nose buried in their phone. People use their phones all the time, whether it be to shop or find a spot to grab a bite to eat and then shop some more.

At the November Fridays @ the Corridor event, Steven Scarborough, senior UX designer for Gulfstream, will discuss the importance of catering your website and online presence to the mobile customer. Learn more and register HERE