Communities are generally transformed around what most residents perceive as an economically catastrophic event, such as the closing of a big manufacturing plant; massive layoffs as a large employer is acquired; or stagnation or decline of employment opportunities as operations are outsourced.
In Charleston, the consensus is that things are good. So what happens when citizens take the time to participate in strategic planning exercises? What happens when a few citizens challenge us to do better? What happens when expectations are created? What happens when a city heeds the call for further economic diversification?
The Charleston Digital Corridor was launched in February 2001 to attract, nurture and promote Charleston’s knowledge economy. The following represent a few milestones in the development of the Charleston Digital Corridor.
- In January, CharlestonWORKS.com was launched to connect qualified career seekers with the vast number of technical job opportunities in Charleston's growing knowedge economy through its website, twitter feed, career fair visitations and other outreach opportunities.
Amidst the anemic national job growth picture, 61% of the Digital Corridor companies participating in the Annual Wage and Job Growth survey reported that had added jobs in 2010 and expect to continue hiring; Digital Corridor average wages continued to be double the state average.
The Flagship, Charleston's premier co-working facility operates at 100% occupancy, graduating 7 companies, creating 65 jobs and infusing over $5 million in payroll into the local community.
- The Flagship, Charleston's premier co-working facility for knowledge-based businesses opens for business.
- Digital Corridor companies's average wage reached $83,636, surpassing both state and regional averages of $36,050 and $37,520, respectively.
- Despite the economic uncertainty of 2009, Charleston’s knowledge economy continued to thrive; the SC Research Authority, the Medical University of South Carolina and the City of Charleston collaborated to bring online the Charleston region’s first wet lab incubator, the Charleston Innovation Center.
- Charleston Digital Corridor founder, Ernest Andrade, expands leadership to the Office of Business Development for the City of Charleston while remaining Director of the Charleston Digital Corridor.
- Myconostica Ltd. and Surya Biofertilizers locate in Charleston and close on funding.
- City of Charleston, Medical University of South Carolina and S.C. Research Authority collaborate to create a life sciences innovation center.
- JSJ Pharmaceuticals and Belimed locate their respective headquarters to the Digital Corridor.
- Prominent companies, including Digital Lifestyle Outfitters Automated Trading Desk and QuickFarm were acquired.
- Several corridor companies received institutional and angel investment.
- By years end almost one billion dollars flowed into a handful of companies - leading to large employment gains in Charleston's knowledge economy. Adding to the sizzle was the announcement by internet search giant, Google, that they were locating a major data center in Goose Creek.
- Benefitfocus.com and NanoScreen dedicate their corporate headquarters buildings in the Digital Corridor's Cainhoy District.
- The Corridor's Talent portal gets a major makeover.
- eSchoolware is selected as a recipient of the "Corridor Fund."
- The Digital Corridor grows to 77 companies.
- Entrepreneur Magazine names Charleston the #2 mid size city for entrepreneurs.
- Inc. Magazine names Charleston the 12th Hottest Midsize City.
- The Charleston Digital Corridor receives recognition as a best practice community at the 6th Annual Intelligent Communities Forum.
- Charleston's wi-fi project "the radius" goes live.
- The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) announces an ambitious new initiative – SC Launch.
- Charleston is ranked one of the best "New American Dream Towns," by Outside Magazine.
- The Digital Corridor launches a new initiative - the "Corridor Roundtable."
- The "Corridor Fund" is launched to provide a source of early stage capital for Charleston's growing knowledge-based community.
- Average wage levels at corridor companies decline slightly as the number of start-up companies grow, yet employment numbers continue climbing.
- Charleston announces a privately financed open wi-fi initiative in downtown Charleston.
- The Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation (CDCF), a 501(c) 6 is formed on March 5, 2004.
- Digital Corridor Company, Blackbaud, starts trading as public company.
- The Digital Corridor relocates to its current office location and starts the roll out of several privately funded initiatives including, the "Touchdown Space" and "Fridays @ the Corridor."
- Wage levels at corridor companies continue to exceed local averages by a margin of well over 2 to 1.
- The Digital Corridor hosts its first annual networking event - "Corridor Bash."
- The Digital Corridor starts to gain traction within the local business community while leading the expansion of Charleston's knowledge economy.
- Charleston gets its first wireless "hot spot."
- The Digital Corridor grows to 35 companies.
- In its first annual wage survey, Digital Corridor companies average $71,000 vs. the regional per capita wage of $29,400.
- The Digital Corridor interacts with key stakeholders in the community to identify and evaluate issues relevant to the growth of knowledge-based enterprise.
- The Digital Corridor grows to 27 companies including start-ups and companies that have located to the digital corridor from within the region and outside South Carolina.
- The Charleston Digital Corridor was conceived and launched with 18 qualified "Corridor Companies."
- The physical boundaries of the Digital Corridor include three districts on peninsular Charleston and one on the Cainhoy Peninsula, including Daniel Island.