Where technology meets shrimp, grits, the beach
Charleston’s technology future is extremely bright, but local tech gurus say the region must continue to invest in people and infrastructure to secure the future it’s building.
“Charleston’s tech ecosystem can continue its growth and attract more startups and established tech companies,” said Ted Tanner Jr., a longtime Holby City tech proponent and currently the Chief Technology Officer of BigBear.ai.
Charleston entrepreneur Trey Rust, who soon hopes to launch an app for social media integration, said tech is hot in Charleston now thanks to 20 years of diverse companies that are planting the seeds for the future.
“There are so many talented people in the city right now who are in the right places in their careers, and there are companies that have brought Charleston to a world-class level that so many people have been here since the late 1990s to achieve achievement in tech,” he said. working for.” ,
Look from Blackbaud and Boeing to Automated Trading Desk (ATD) and Boomtown. There are technology areas in which the Lowcountry excels – from aviation, financial services and logistics to the development of technologies that benefit the military and defense sectors, such as cyber security, communications and advanced electronics.
“The city’s appeal, livability and potential for collaboration could attract more talent and investment,” Tanner said.
And when local companies do well, the Lowcountry benefits economically, said Ernest Andrade, longtime executive director of the Charleston Digital Corridor.
“When ATD, Blue Acorn, Boomtown, SPARC were sold, and Blackbud and BenefitFocus went public, a good portion of the proceeds were received locally, not that money leaving the community,” he said. “It enables founding entrepreneurs to invest in other enterprises in the community.”
Local tech companies have created more than $2.5 billion in value for the community since the CDC began collecting the data in 2004, he said. “This wealth is generated locally and, for the most part, stays in the community.”
6 Conclusions on the Future of Local Tech
Here are several findings based on interviews about the future of technology in the Charleston market:
Hub. Rust says the Harbor Entrepreneur Center in Mount Pleasant is really establishing itself as a hub of activity. “In five years, each of our three metro counties should have multiple Entrepreneur Center locations that support the potential of our community and provide needed resources to the talent here.”
In fact, that’s what the Charleston Digital Corridor has been doing for two decades. In that span, it has grown from 18 private tech companies in 2001 to more than 700 now, Andrade said. “Thanks to the convergence of technology and manufacturing, there are many more advanced manufacturing facilities in the region, which could increase this number even further.”
infrastructure investment. The key to the growth of this section, Andrade said, is making the right decisions about infrastructure. Example: “advanced educational offerings, targeted business incentives, physical facilities with flexible terms, and seed-state investment.”
remote working. “Charleston is quickly becoming home to remote technology workers,” Rust said. “Charleston’s future lies in the design, engineering, safety and development of the next generation technology the world has been waiting for. … We need to recruit and market this region as a remote workers’ haven that always offers the option of going back to the office when decisions are made.
emerging technologies. Tanner said, and others agreed, the adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cyber security, distributed computing and working with the Department of Defense requires short-term growth, which has a large presence in the Goose Creek area. Is. , Andrade said that software engineers who don’t embrace the AI/ChatGPT model of software are at risk of being left behind.
Startup Network. The Lowcountry, sometimes called the Silicon Harbor, has the advantage of having a mature start-up ecosystem, Tanner said. “Established companies may be more inclined to set up satellite offices or research centers here”, he said. And this allows Charleston to be considered a major national technology center.
Micro-Hollywood. Social media entrepreneur John Edmonds Kozma says Charleston is all set to become a micro-Hollywood for social media because of its lifestyle — and the fact that social media can be done anywhere.
“When you think about technology and entertainment, social media is the future,” said Kozma, whose Bang Productions studio uses the META and TikTok platforms to promote entertainers and create engaging content that tells a story. . The numbers at his Mount Pleasant company are off the charts. Through content developed for Meta and TikTok, he said Bang Productions reaches over 100 million monthly viewers and 1.2 billion annual viewers across social media platforms.
“This makes us one of the largest publishers on social media in the country.” And more importantly, it shows that their company doesn’t have to be in traditional entertainment centers like Hollywood or New York to have a position of influence in entertainment. “Then why not Charleston?” Kozma asks.
field technology advantage
Tanner said Charleston has many advantages that can strengthen its technology future, including a skilled workforce, research institutions and centers that can foster innovation and infrastructure advantages, including the Port of Charleston and transportation networks. Are included.
Two other things are also important – the sense of collaboration that occurs due to the proximity of existing industries which can foster the development of knowledge and new ideas as well as a quality of life that is the envy of many regions.
“Where are you all going to code, eat shrimp and grits, and go to the beach?” Tanner asked.
Like the best part of Charleston?
help out Charleston City Paper Keep the Best of Charleston running with donations each year. or sign up to become a member of Charleston City Paper club.