What We Do

The Beaufort Digital Corridor nurtures and promotes technology entrepreneurs. Our BASEcamp facility - located in downtown Beaufort - provides scalable office space for tech startups and coworking desks for remote workers. BDC offers networking opportunities, continuing education, and member-driven programs to help grow the tech economy in the Lowcountry.

Talent

Opportunities Abound
LowcountryWorks Tech Business Directory, Talent Portal, CODEcamp, Game On!, Live Work Mentor

Spaces

Get Working
Work Spaces, Scalable Offices, Coworking Desks, Conference Room, Event and Meeting Space

Community

Peer Networking
TECHconnect, BASEcamp Gallery, Fridays @ the Corridor, Coworking @ the Corridor, Beaufort Free Wi-fi

Capital

Accelerating Growth
Regional Tech Investors, Capital-related Education, Pitch Events, Looking to add to Investors List
STATS

Latest News

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Beaufort Digital Corridor Awarded Relentless Challenge Grant

The Beaufort Digital Corridor has been awarded a $65,000 Relentless Challenge grant from the South Carolina Department of Commerce Office of Innovation. The grant funds projects that focus on fostering the relentless pursuit of transformational ideas, specifically in the areas of entrepreneurship, talent development, and access to capital. The grant requires a dollar-for-dollar match from non-state entities.

The Digital Corridor's project, Technology Product Development Training, is for entrepreneurs with a product idea that has scalable potential. Through immersive experience, they will be able to understand exactly how they will develop their product, what they need to do that and be in a much better position to complete their product in a timely manner. Training will be provided largely by University of South Carolina Beaufort Computer Science faculty and students, as well as the BDC's mentor and professional network.

"Empowering localized efforts for the innovation community is crucial as South Carolina's knowledge economy continues to grow," said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. "Access to capital, talent development, and high-scaling entrepreneurship are key elements for a thriving innovation ecosystem. We look forward to collaborating with each Relentless Challenge project over the coming year."

Interested parties are encouraged to attend an informational seminar open to residents, BDC members, and the public at BASEcamp on Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 6-7pm. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 7 to determine product concepts that have the best commercial potential. "This project creates the environment for accelerated technology development, which speaks to the reason the Beaufort Digital Corridor exists: to help technology entrepreneurs become growing, hiring companies," said BDC Board Chairman Kevin Klingler.

CODEcamp Beaufort Spring 2020

The Beaufort Digital Corridor brings something fresh to the Spring 2020 class of CODEcamp – Beginning Mobile Development, a brand new addition to the CODEcamp roster. Registration is open now for this limited seating opportunity.

The eight-week course takes place on Saturdays from 10:00am-1:00pm at the Corridor's BASEcamp facility starting March 28, 2020 and runs through May 16. CODEcamp is a project-based, code education program designed for busy adults of all experience levels in a convenient, affordable guided class format.

We are pleased to see the return of instructor Matt Shaw, senior software engineer, whose professional focus is mobile development. Matt was inspired to create the curriculum for the new CODEcamp offering after teaching two seasons of Intro to Web Development. Students will learn the basics of mobile development using React Native, an open-source mobile application framework created by Facebook that can be used for both Android and iOS.

The class is for beginners, so anyone who is curious about what it takes to create a mobile app can join. However, former CODEcamp students may have a leg up because they already have been introduced to coding languages including JavaScript. The practical application of what is learned in the CODEcamp courses can be used right away.

The Corridor is seeking sponsors to help offset some costs for the program in order to continue offering classes at least twice a year in a format that remains affordable for students.

BASEcamp Gallery Spring 2020: This is Beaufort

Beaufort Digital Corridor is pleased to present This is Beaufort: Photography by Phil Heim and Clay Goodwin for the BASEcamp Gallery Spring 2020 exhibit that will display throughout March, April, and May.

Two self-taught photographers, two different perspectives on the Lowcountry. Join us as we open BASEcamp Gallery to the public on First Friday, March 6, 2020 to celebrate the work of these artists and see for a moment through their respective lenses. Doors open 5:00-7:00pm at BASEcamp – 500 Carteret Street, halfway between USCB Center for the Arts/Sea Islands Center Gallery and the downtown galleries.

Phil Heim was always interested in the art, starting with his first camera- a Bazooka Joe palm sized mini camera that took B&W photos. Just before retiring from the Marines, he decided to take a deeper dive into photography using a digital camera. He then practiced digital photography for a year before he jumped to professional level equipment. Developing his own unique style with both vibrant color and B&W Lowcountry seascapes, landscapes, and shrimp boat scenes, he started his own gallery, moving to a prime location on Bay Street by 2017.

Clay Goodwin has been a hobbyist for over thirty years and has just begun to document portfolios of some of his favorite Lowcountry subject matter. Whether that be contemporary, fine art, or abstract, Clay's photos give the viewer the grounded perspective of walking paths less traveled- historic signs and abandoned buildings out in the fields or by roadside stands. Though he has shown his work at local festivals, he also is a photographer for hire and does his own editing, printing, original B&W film developing, and print making.

New Membership Level: Sole Proprietor

The Beaufort Digital Corridor now has a Sole Proprietor-level membership for those working in tech and not associated with a company. People who move to Beaufort do so because of its livability, bringing their work with them- work-life balance is key for them. That's why we see so many sole proprietors, remote workers, and consultants- they enjoy the freedom of their profession and rely on their own business and time management.

If you are a sole proprietor, consultant, or remote worker in a tech-related field, we invite you to connect with us and enjoy some of the benefits, at the very least plugging in to a relevant, forward-thinking community at a level that makes sense.

Solo workers can benefit from the tech ecosystem the Digital Corridor offers. This could include generating work locally or growing your venture. Even keeping things small, simple and sustainable as a one-person operation can benefit from idea exchange.

Member tech companies may benefit from services that sole proprietors offer as well as the potential for collaboration with particular expertise. And finally, both benefit from like-minded focus, professionalism, and the sharing of best practices while enjoying the living in this incredible place.

Click HERE to join.

Sit on these painted benches, and learn more about Beaufort

Residents and visitors to the City of Beaufort may notice new painted benches dotted around downtown, offering a respite for people who want to sit for a few moments.

The benches were placed last week in six locations throughout downtown, and will be viewed by members of the South Carolina Arts Commission, who are visiting Beaufort on Jan. 23 and will meet with the artists who painted the benches. The Arts Commission will be in town to hold a workshop for the public as part of its Canvass of the People 2020 tour, and has added the bench tour to its visit.

The bench project, which is under the auspices of the Beaufort Cultural Arts District Board (CDAB), began about a year-and-a-half-ago. Robb Wells, President and CEO of the Greater Beaufort & Port Royal Convention & Visitors Bureau and at the time a member of the CDAB, said that visitors to Beaufort indicated in surveys that the City did not offer enough seating downtown to allow them to sit and "take it all in."

"The CDAB wanted to create a solution that would foster collaboration, offers local artists visibility, and provide the seating that people said they wanted," said Rhonda Carey, a member of the CDAB and downtown events coordinator for the City.

The collaboration began with LowCountry Habitat for Humanity, whose carpenters built each 4-foot long bench. "This served as the 'canvas' for each artist," Carey said.

Six partner organizations were asked to work with their artists to create a design that would reflect their organization's mission, identity, and place in the community, Carey said. Various materials were used, including oil paint, acrylic, spray paint, and digital artwork. The project was funded by the CDAB and each of the participating organizations.

Artist Omar Patterson's "Low Country Dreaming" evokes iconic images of the Low Country – sunset, palm trees, and marsh grass – along with historically significant African-American figures – Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Beaufort's legendary Robert Smalls. Patterson wanted his bench, sponsored by the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce and situated outside that building, to have "images that were significant to Beaufort's African-Americans."

"It took me about three weeks to paint the bench," he said. "I enjoyed every minute of it. It's such a blessing to be part of something so great and historic, and to capture the spirit of the Low Country."

Linda Silk Sviland painted Habitat's bench, using the organization's blue and green colors to show a blueprint of a home and the actual finished home. The words "these are my plans for Saturday" are painted over the blueprint – a tagline that Habitat sometimes uses.

"I think it's a wonderful way to make art," she said. "Other cities have done beautiful sculptures, but there is no function other than beauty. This is functional art – it's a terrific way to have the public see art that is useful."

Where you can find each bench:

Sponsor: Beaufort Digital Corridor
Artists: Jess O'Brien, Nate Schaub, Aaron Miller, Shawn Hill, Shelley Barratt, Brian Canada
Theme: Plug in
Location: Corner of Carteret and North streets

Sponsor: Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce
Artist: Omar Patterson
Theme: Low Country Dreaming
Location: Corner of Bladen and Duke streets

Sponsor: Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity
Artist: Linda Silk Sviland
Theme: Seeking to put God's love into action
Location: Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park

Sponsor: National Reconstruction Era National Park
Artist: Ginger Noah Wareham
Theme: United when the impossible suddenly became possible
Location: Corner of Craven and Scott streets

Sponsor: Santa Elena History Center
Artists: Frank Anson, Tom Van Steenbergh, Sandy Dimke, Lynne Darling
Theme: Beaufort's earliest history and heritage
Location: Courtyard at Bay and Bladen streets

Sponsor: University of South Carolina Beaufort
Artists: Mary Ann Ford and John Rodriguez; master builder Greg Rawls
Theme: Beaufort College – Rich Heritage of Education
Location: Entrance to Center for the Arts

More photos HERE.

Beaufort launches South Coast Cyber Center

Under a plan presented to City Council at its Work Session on Jan. 14, the City of Beaufort could become a center of cybersecurity expertise, with the potential to offer high-paying jobs to exiting military as well as career opportunities to hometown graduates.

The South Coast Cyber Center, which is in the process of becoming a 501 (c) (3), represents stakeholders from the City, the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB), Technical College of the Low Country (TCL), the Beaufort Digital Corridor, Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation, and retired military. Under this ambitious plan, TCL and USCB would offer certificates and degrees in cybersecurity and cyber defense, while the Beaufort Digital Corridor would offer bootcamps and mentoring to startups.

The group's goal is that within three years, both schools would have achieved a Center of Academic Excellence designation from the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, according to Councilman Stephen Murray, who is vice chairman of the South Coast Cyber Center's advisory board. TCL would offer an associate degree in cybersecurity and USCB a bachelor degree.

City Council will be asked to approve a resolution at its Jan. 28 meeting supporting the South Coast Cyber Center.

Cybersecurity jobs are in great demand, according to research done by the group, and pay $60,000-$70,000 at the entry level. Last year, there was a shortage of 300,000 jobs in the United States. That demand, coupled with the advantages many exiting military would bring to the table – an adversarial mindset, security clearances – make Beaufort the perfect place to cultivate a center for cybersecurity expertise, Murray said.

And it aligns with the City's strategic goals – to offer job opportunities to exiting military that would keep them in Beaufort, to diversify the economy, and to encourage high-paying jobs that would make Beaufort an even more desirable place to live.

Members of the advisory board have met with state and federal delegations to lay out the reasons why it makes sense for Beaufort to do this, and to ask for $5.3 million in seed funding – what UCSB, TCL and the Beaufort Digital Corridor have estimated they would need to add the appropriate faculty, curriculum, technology, and facilities, to quickly ramp up.

Currently, USCB offers degrees in computational science, Murray said, and TCL offers a certificate in cybersecurity. "We felt that we could build on this," he said.

Murray said that in 2019, approximately 2,100 military exited Parris Island, the Naval Hospital and the Marine Corps Air Station. "Many of them are invested here, have bought houses here, their kids are in school, their spouses are working in the community," Murray said. Still, only a fraction stay – often because Beaufort does not offer them the career opportunities they seek.

"We will actively work to recruit cybersecurity firms," Murray said. "We'd start to establish an ecosystem around cybersecurity and cyber defense in Beaufort." That could also lead to more students from the Beaufort area deciding that good careers awaited them if they were to study cybersecurity at TCL and USCB.

Col. Warren Parker, USMC, Retired, is chairman of the advisory board.

The City of Beaufort's Higher Education Task Force, which began in 2019 to bring USCB, TCL and the county school district to the table to examine areas where all schools could collaborate on programs that would lead to good paying jobs, expressed its support of the South Coast Cyber Center at a recent meeting.

Investing in Tech

On a recent Thursday night in downtown Beaufort, a few dozen people gather in a brightly lit, modern office space to talk shop.

Over drinks and appetizers of sushi and steamed dumplings they talk about what they're working on, who might be someone to connect with and, most important of all, how they can get their product or idea off the ground.

It's all part of the Beaufort Digital Corridor's TECHConnect, a monthly networking event for technology professionals to come together and meet like-minded people.

Held at what the corridor calls its BASEcamp, or the former Bank of America building at 500 Carteret Street, TECHConnect is just one of several initiatives the Beaufort Digital Corridor (BDC) has launched in recent months in an attempt to bolster not only start-up companies but Beaufort's tech community as well.

Now in its third year, the BDC is a success from the standpoint that it has filled all of its original office suites – nine to be exact – with startup companies. Ten if you're counting the corridor's own office. And now that the corridor is at maximum capacity, its leaders are looking to the future with an eye toward "graduating" these companies, or helping them go from concept or prototype, to successful tech company.

But bigger questions remain: Can the BDC, which still receives public funding, become a self-sustaining organization? And is a town the size of Beaufort capable of launching and nurturing a tech sector?

Beaufort City Councilman Stephen Murray seems to think so, and is already encouraged by what he's seeing.

"It's going really well," Murray said recently when asked about the corridor and its future. Murray, who is also a member of the BDC's board, was instrumental in bringing the idea to Beaufort and helping to get the project up and running.

Investing in an idea like the BDC is a way for the city to stabilize and grow Beaufort's economy, he said, which has had some troubling indicators in recent years.

"From 2005 to 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau says we lost about 25 percent of our 21 to 44-year-olds," he said. In addition, Beaufort had an almost 30 percent decline in per capita income for the same time period, while a home in Beaufort costs almost twice as much as the state average.

"So if our young people are leaving, people who are here are getting poorer, and the cost of living continues49029592 10217794340635154 7152404154650984448 n

to rise... does that lead to the type of community that most of us want to live in?" he asked.

What often happens in such an economy is a "brain drain" in which young professionals and those with families migrate toward parts of the country with more lucrative businesses or industries that pay higher wages, while lower paying industries or sectors are left behind, even in areas that are seemingly growing, such as Beaufort, due to an influx of retirees.

"If we acknowledge that many of the jobs that are going to pay competitive wages ... are in the (tech) areas, now is the time that we need to be making those investments in the community and planting the seed that tech and innovation can thrive in Beaufort," Murray said.

Planting the Seed

Like many great ideas, the idea to start a digital incubator of sorts in Beaufort started over drinks.

"I was drinking bourbon at Old Bull Tavern with a buddy of mine," Murray said laughing.

The two had been discussing the challenges that faced the city's economy, and what seems to be the most troubling of all for Murray, that young people were leaving his hometown in droves.

That conversation led to an introduction with the head of Charleston's Digital Corridor, Ernest Andrade, and fairly soon after, a group of Beaufort's business and economic development leaders made the trip to Charleston to see what they could learn from the Holy City's tech initiative.

Like those in Beaufort, Charleston's city leaders, including then Mayor Joe Riley, had long since come to the conclusion that the cyclical nature of the city's main industry, tourism, just wasn't going to cut it. A more diversified economy was needed if Charleston's economy was ever going to grow and thrive.

Murray said their visit to Charleston "blew them away."

"...the space they have, the level of collaboration they have among the folks in the space, the track record of success over 15 to 16 years at that point," he said, adding that their goals also aligned.

After the group returned, more conversations followed on how Beaufort might replicate Charleston's success and, more importantly, avoid the pitfalls other cities had experienced.

Digital Corridor Andrew McNeil Lowcountry Analytics

Technology incubators and accelerators were not a new concept, after all, and over the years, many had failed as has been widely documented (see Forbes, _Fast Company _or the _Washington Post _on the subject). What's more, what works in one place may not always work in another, the group's members acknowledged.

Fortunately for Beaufort, Murray and the group saw the wisdom in partnering with people who had already gone through process.

"For Beaufort to access and to have access to the Charleston entrepreneur network we thought would be a real value," Murray said.

So they asked Andrade if Beaufort could be a satellite of the Charleston Digital Corridor and Andrade agreed, loaning out his expertise, the corridor's name and logo, and even their blueprint for how to get started.

"And with Charleston only being an hour and 20 minutes away, we also saw the ability for Charleston innovators and tech folks to come to Beaufort and use Beaufort as a sort of retreat destination," Murray added.

Within about six months after Beaufort City Council gave its go ahead for the project, the digital corridor was up and running with the help of private donations and public economic development funds totaling about $250,000.

The city, which had just purchased the former bank building on Carteret mainly for its parking, Murray said, donated the space.

"It was really kind of exciting how the stars aligned," he said.

Providing Real Value

The corridor's current group of tech startups are focused on ideas and innovations in such fields as healthcare,Digital Corridor Shelley Barrett Floor

marketing or analytics, or are looking for new ways of thinking about IT or network security.

Companies, or "residents" as they are called, first become members and can then lease a plug-and-play office space with affordable and flexible terms. The BDC's BASEcamp also comes with a kitchen, conference room space, common area, and high-speed wifi of course.

Ideally the start-ups will go on to "graduate" from the corridor, or move out when they become successful companies, said Shelley Barratt, executive director for the BDC.

In addition, the BDC is partnering with area schools and colleges such as Technical College of the Lowcountry and USC Beaufort, to build the digital workforce of tomorrow, she said.

It also strives to foster the greater tech community by launching such programs as "Code Camp," a continuing education style program for busy adults who may be looking for a new career or skill, or "Live Work Mentor," a collegiate entrepreneur summer program in which college students or teams can focus on creating their own business idea.

"We're trying to fill things both ways so that we have the workers but we also have the jobs," Barratt said. "It's an interesting mix of things."

But the most important benefit residents get, Barratt said, is mentoring from the corridor's board of directors, something that's certainly been a benefit to Wave Sciences, one of the BDC's startups.

Having been members of the Charleston Digital Corridor for years, Wave Sciences became interested in the BDC for the additional expertise and "community of experts" it offered, said Karen Lucas, the company's head of administration.

The audio company, which specializes in wearable "smart garments" which help people hear better over long distances or in noisy settings like crowds or social events, had found success in government applications of its technology and was looking to make the jump into the consumer market.

Founder Keith McElveen was able to connect with the BDC's Board Chairman Kevin Klingler, who then helped McElveen with his business plan. The company also benefits from its residency in other ways.

"There's a lot of benefit from being around other companies that are doing novel things and being able to communicate with each other," Lucas said.

Digital corridors can also be a benefit to the city or region that supports them, she added. Places like Silicon Valley have succeeded in no small part because they have clustered companies together which, in turn, attracts workers.

"If you can create that in your home town, or on a smaller scale, you can benefit from the same environment those other places are benefiting from," she said. "It comes back to the exchange of ideas. You've got support there, you've got a synergy that comes when people come together in groups."

Digital Corridor Jamie Flaming 1212 Design

Melissa St. Clair agrees with Lucas.

"It's so important to be able to be around like-minded people that want to start something and grow and move forward and that you can potentially collaborate with because they are working out of the same space," she said.

A virtual assistant, St. Clair is hardly a start-up on the verge of becoming the next big tech company. She is, however, a small business woman who frequently works "in the digital space" with clients in a variety of industries from financial services to fitness.

She launched her company, Paper Chaser, in 2006, after working at the Chamber of Commerce in Jacksonville, Florida where she was inspired by the chamber's many entrepreneurs.

Most of her business comes from referrals or networking, she said, and she often works with other entrepreneurs who either don't have the time or expertise to handle a specific task or just don't want to handle the task for whatever reason.

St. Clair has taken advantage of the BDC's co-working space, another option the corridor offers as part of its "flexible workspace solutions" – perfect for digital workers like St. Clair. Those wanting to use the space can rent a semi-private desk for as little as $25 a day.

St. Clair also just attended her first TECHConnect, which she said was "buzzing" with good conversation.

"First impression was a good impression because networking is so important," she said. "And learning about all the tech related businesses was great."

Investing in the Future

Whether or not the BDC – or its startups for that matter – become successful, self-sustaining entities remains to be seen. But that is the long-term goal of the corridor, Murray says.

The city continues to support the project to the tune of $50,000 a year, though Murray said he hopes to see the private sector take on more of that role in the future.

"My hope, long term, is that as we grow the tech community, and as we grow the value of the corridor, that the private sector really sees the value and will make the investment to keep the doors open, and so overtime we can diminish the city's participation there," he said.

In the meantime, investing in tech, and helping to diversify and bolster Beaufort's economy is also important, Murray says, particularly in providing jobs and attracting and retaining families and young professionals.

He calls it an investment on a future return with the idea that successful digital companies will rent or buy space, hire people, pay taxes and in return, send money "back to the city coffers."

"In many respects it's us sort of investing in a startup, he said. "Beaufort Digital Corridor is our startup."

"The corridor is as much about planting that seed and saying we can do this, and it can be successful here with the hope that there will be buy in, and we'll start to see companies come out of it in the next couple of years," he added. "It's about setting us up and making those investments so we're successful in the new economy."

Pictured above:
TECHconnect at the Beaufort Digital Corridor
City Councilman Stephen Murray
Andrew McNeil, Lowcountry Analytics
BDC Executive Director Shelley Barratt 
Jamie Fleming, 1212 Design

Upcoming Events

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BASEcamp Gallery Spring 2020

Two self-taught photographers, two different perspectives on the Lowcountry. Join us as we open BASEcamp Gallery to the public on First Friday, March 6, 2020 to celebrate the work of Phil Heim and Clay Goodwin and see for a moment through their respective lenses. Doors open 5:00-7:00pm at BASEcamp – 500 Carteret Street, halfway between USCB Center for the Arts/Sea Islands Center Gallery and the downtown galleries. See news release HERE.

Fridays @ the Corridor - Chuck Hannon, Entrepreneur

Chuck Hannon, Entrepreneur, shares his TWISSTOP(R) product story.

Join us for lunch and insight into successful innovative company idea and launch. Learn more and register HERE.

Contact us if you are interested in sponsoring lunch for this Fridays @ the Corridor.

As a successful entrepreneur and innovator of proprietary, patented products, Chuck is eager to share his professional array of Proven Business Expertise - by providing consulting services to start-up companies, on-going business operations and those who are seriously exploring making their unique product idea and business vision a reality.

TECHconnect

TECHconnect is a monthly networking event held at BASEcamp for professionals working in and around technology with the goal of creating and advancing our local tech economy. Come and join the conversation!

Please RSVP to info@beaufortdigital.com

CODEcamp Beaufort - Spring 2020

Registration open now for eight weeks of our new CODEcamp offering - Beginning Mobile Development, Saturdays from 10:00am-1:00pm. March 28 - May 16, 2020.

Read more HERE about this brand new beginning mobile development course using React Native in a hands-on, in-classroom environment.

This is a BYOL (bring your own laptop) event!

TECHconnect meets Business After Hours

This month, TECHconnect meets a week earlier than usual to be a part of Beaufort Regional Chamber's Business After Hours! We invite the business community to co-mingle with our tech community, take a tour of BASEcamp, and enjoy the artwork of BASEcamp Gallery along with some local refreshments.

TECHconnect is a monthly networking event held at BASEcamp for professionals working in and around technology with the goal of creating and advancing our local tech economy. Come and join the conversation!

Please RSVP to info@beaufortdigital.com