Fueling Innovation: Entrepreneurship in the I-77 Alliance Region

Posted | by Chris Finn |

The I-77 Alliance counties are known for fostering the success of many businesses.

While the area has recently attracted a great deal of attention for its quickly growing manufacturing sector, it is also a hub for companies of all shapes and sizes, including smaller entrepreneurial ventures. The counties have the resources to help small businesses and start-ups succeed, too!

A Hub for Innovation

Knowledge Park, a recently-developed section of York County’s Rock Hill, is an area dedicated to “creativity, innovation, and opportunity.”

Supported by South Carolina’s Innovation Department, the community there offers a number of fantastic resources to entrepreneurs. The Hive, its learning space, offers ventures co-working space with cutting edge technologies, and the Hive Business Center provides start-ups with services ranging from marketing assistance to accounting system set-up.

The area is also home to a technology incubator and the Fab Lab, a 3D printing and fabrication laboratory. Additionally, its ICE speaker series brings innovators and leaders to the area to spark discussions relevant to entrepreneurship.

Rock Hill also has an Open for Business Program that helps startups that are ready to launch a location in the city. The program helps organizations with aspects such as regulations, inspections, and licensing in order to make the establishment of a small business in Rock Hill as easy as possible.

Central Piedmont Community College is also home to the Small Business Center, which provides local entrepreneurs with resources including a certificate program, seminars, networking events, and much more.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit

Richland County is also known for its entrepreneurial spirit. In Thumbtack.com’s Small Business Friendliness Survey, Columbia received an A- for the “Ease of Starting a Business” there as well as its “Training & Networking Programs” for small business owners.

In addition to the University of South Carolina, Columbia is home to a number of other colleges that foster entrepreneurship and innovative thinking on their campuses. For example, Columbia College has helped develop a Women’s Entrepreneurship Network to promote innovation and provide support for women entrepreneurs in areas ranging from mentorship to capital access.

In 2015, South Carolina’s Department of Commerce awarded South Carolina Innovation Challenge grants totaling $2.6 million to ventures across the state, including to projects in Richland and York counties.

It’s clear that innovators in the area recognize the opportunities and innovative spirit of the I-77 Alliance counties. The area’s business-friendly tax policies, talented labor pool, incredible market access, and entrepreneurial programs make the I-77 corridor counties the perfect place to start a small business or venture!

Contact us today to learn about the opportunities for starting or growing your entrepreneurial venture in this great area!