Digital Corridor Attracts High-Tech Talent and Companies
***image1***The Charleston Digital Corridor is not just digitized hypertext floating in the Internet ether.
There is a there there.
Its physical headquarters is located in a downtown Charleston industrial loft on Meeting Street. With a spare, minimalist décor and acid-etched concrete floor, it feels as high tech as its mission, which is to attract and nurture Lowcountry knowledge-based companies.
This is where Development Coordinator Kimberly Demetriades oversees various initiatives offered through the four-year-old enterprise.
“We are a one-stop shop which offers networking between likeminded companies and individuals,” she said.
The following is a synopsis of Digital Corridor activities:
This web portal connects participating Digital Corridor companies with qualified professional and technical talent. Besides maintaining its own internal skills bank of prospective employees, it seeks reciprocal arrangements with other employment and internal portals to reverse local “brain-drain” and attract individuals from other regions to relocate to the Lowcountry.
“The talent portal went online a year ago and now career seekers can post their profiles so that Digital Corridor member companies can search for employees,” Demetriades said. “And companies can post jobs for specific technological-related jobs.”
Fridays @ the Corridor
This monthly event is a series of interactive forums where qualified professionals lead discussions that can help companies remain vibrant and knowledgeable.
The one-hour 9 a.m. forums are held on the third Friday of each month at Digital Corridor headquarters.
Previous subjects of “Friday @ the Corridor” include:
· Voice Over Internet Protocol;
· The proliferation of Wi-Fi networks;
· The Digital Corridor’s “Talent Portal;”
· Marketing strategies for knowledge-based companies;
· Blackbaud’s IPO;
· Human Resource issues for small business.
The Digital Corridor headquarters offers a temporary, full-service office designed to assist start-up, young and relocating technology-intense and knowledge-based companies. The wireless-enabled professional office includes two private workstations and a meeting space that can accommodate up to 20 people.
“This is a dedicated location where knowledge-based companies, support professionals and interested parties can get together to discuss relevant issues,” Demetriades said. “They can consult with our growing list of professional resources, view product demonstrations and learn from distinguished professionals.”
The Digital Corridor seeks to raise a small fund to assist start-up and young companies, according to Demetriades. This “Corridor Fund” will be used as collateral for business loans to companies being targeted for recruitment and growth by the Corridor. These short-term loans (6-18 months) will be secured by stock and other assets of each company.
Corridor Fund objectives are to:
· Make available a revolving source of funds to be used by local knowledge-based companies that allows them to grow and become contributors to the local economy;
· Attract investments of $5,000 to $20,000 from local “service providers” who will benefit from this business activity as well as individuals who are interested in the economic diversification of Charleston;
· Migrate “Corridor Fund” companies to the local financial community and help to develop lending practices that would ultimately prove beneficial to this growing base of companies.
This is a real estate portal that enables the Digital Corridor to help clients with site acquisition or rental properties, according to Demetriades.
“Through our real estate membership program, the Corridor maintains a partial list of desirable properties and locations for knowledge-based businesses,” she said. “Property types include 18th- and 19th-century historic structures with 21st-century infrastructure, first-generation business environments in vibrant urban and suburban settings as well as build-to-suit opportunities.
“This is a virtual meeting place where startup companies can receive guidance and immediate answers from seasoned entrepreneurs,” Demetriades said. “Their experience, savvy, and networks can prove helpful to other Charleston-area entrepreneurs who are ready to take their businesses to the next level.”
Unlike initiatives that focus solely on business startups, the Corridor Roundtable is a private process for the rapid exchange of direct answers, effective advice and relevant contacts for community entrepreneurs.
Kirk King, CEO of Daniel Island-based CSS, has high praise for the Charleston Digital Corridor and its activities.
“The Digital Corridor provides a value-added approach to economic development by offering initiatives tailored for knowledge-based businesses like my company,” King said. “The Charleston Digital Corridor has played an important role in the development of our corporate office on Daniel Island, and has supported the passage of key initiatives that are of ongoing importance to CSS. I would encourage every employee working in the technology arena in our community to register their skills profile in the Digital Corridor’s Talent Portal, so that they can strengthen the opportunities for themselves and the technology industry in Charleston.”