Beaufort officially welcomes Digital Corridor

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The Beaufort Digital Corridor project formally opens its doors Thursday, Jan. 12, to start helping small technology-related companies take flight.

A ribbon cutting will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the renovated and upfitted offices.

The approximately 5,000-thousand-square foot facility at 500 Carteret St. is located in downtown Beaufort a few blocks from Bay Street.

The Beaufort Digital Corridor is an offshoot of the successful Charleston Digital Corridor, a program started in 2001 that led Fast Company Magazine to dub Charleston “Silicon Harbor.”

Charleston is working with Beaufort to develop and put in place systems and solutions to address similar challenges Charleston experienced before founding its digital corridor: attracting technology businesses, raising per-capita wages and keeping its best and brightest workers.

The offices, called BASEcamp, will be “Beaufort’s premier business incubator and co-working office designed to meet the transitional professional office space needs of tech and tech-related entrepreneurs seeking adaptable, affordable office and conference facilities of the highest quality, while gaining access to the network of entrepreneurs and professionals in both Beaufort and Charleston,” according to a press release.

“Our goal with the development of BASEcamp is to create a modern, highly flexible, welcoming —and oh, by the way, dog-friendly — workplace that allows entrepreneurs to focus on achieving their business goals while also being conducive to collaboration,” said Ernest Andrade, project manager and Charleston Digital Corridor director.

InterDev, an Atlanta-area provider of information technology and security services, will be a sponsor of the Beaufort Digital Corridor.

“We’re excited to be the first donor and partner with the Beaufort Digital Corridor,” said InterDev CEO Gary Nichols. “As the managed IT services provider for the city of Beaufort, this is a natural extension of InterDev’s relationship with Beaufort and an investment in its citizens and the local economy.

“We’re looking forward to having the same technology business growth for Beaufort that Charleston is experiencing with its digital corridor.”

“The Beaufort Digital Corridor is the right idea at the right time and certainly the right place,” said Beaufort City Councilman Stephen Murray, a leader in 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 more than 350 companies in 2015. With an average wage of $69,580, pay at tech companies 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 then 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 program manager is Karen Warner. She can be reached at info@beaufortdigital.com, 843-470-3506 or via the website at www.beaufortdigital.com.