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Charleston Digital Corridor And Bibliolabs Launch Area-Wide Digital Library Service

Reacting to an immediate need for vetted learning materials and curated entertainment during the COVID-19 isolation period, the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation (CDCF) announced they have teamed with local software company, BiblioLabs, to launch a digital library for all Charleston County residents. As more libraries take precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, often resulting in a ceasing of in-person patron services and events, digital libraries have never been more important.

"We have been talking to the City of Charleston and BiblioLabs for several years about a modern, geolocated Charleston county-wide digital library for residents and visitors alike," said Ernest Andrade, Executive Director of the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation, "but we could never find the partners or funding to make it happen. When the new social distancing and stay home guidelines, I knew I could not let funding be the blocker to pulling it together. The team at BiblioLabs worked quickly to get this library up for Charleston residents and is working directly with publishers and authors to ensure we can keep it regularly updated during the COVID-19 crisis. We want this library to serve all residents of Charleston County whether you have a library card or not."

BiblioLabs, via their public library platform BiblioBoard, provides mobile library services to city, state, and national libraries around the world, but this is the first time this service has been available to Charleston County residents.

"We live and work here and we were incredibly motivated to pull this together after Ernest called us" said BiblioLabs Founder & CEO, Mitchell Davis, "after talking about it for years, we were able to put it together in less than 24 hours once we had the go-ahead from a motivated local partner. We are hopeful that this digital library can serve as a valuable community resource when it is needed most."

(1) Anyone in Charleston County can seamlessly access materials without visiting the physical library or even having a library card. The community can access the digital library by visiting https://library.biblioboard.com/ on their phone, tablet, or computer. Anyone physically located in the library service area (Charleston County) will have seamless access to all content at all times.

(2) Users will not be turned away or waitlisted -

Every electronic resource (eBooks, audio clips, videos, images, and more) is offered in an unlimited, simultaneous use model. Readers can access an unlimited number of books during this time away from the physical library. They will never be faced with waitlists, holds, or checkout limits.

(3) What is in the digital library?

The library contains over 30,000 curated items, including digital historical materials, children's books, and comics from leading authors and publishers. It also includes award winning Fiction, YA, Science Fiction, and works from local Charleston authors and archives.

To use the CHS Geo Library, just open a web browser on your phone, tablet, or computer to https://library.biblioboard.com

FusionPoint CEO and founding partner, Jason Lungarini

Data is Leveling the Business Playing Field, Lungarini Says

Jason Lungarini is CEO and founding partner of FusionPoint, a data analytics firm based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Lungarini started the company in 2006 in Connecticut and moved to the Charleston area in 2015. FusionPoint now maintains offices in Charleston, Connecticut and Florida.

This series is brought to you with support from Charleston County Economic Development.

Jason Lungarini has seen increasing diversity on supermarket shelves over the past 15 years. More microbrews and organic products from upstart brands, for example.

Big Data and technology are drivers of that disruption, says Lungarini, CEO of data analytics firm FusionPoint.

Lungarini knows the grocery space because consumer packaged goods companies are among the clients his firm helps gather and understand data. When FusionPoint started in 2006, he said a few big manufacturers largely controlled the array of products in stores. Now, smaller brands are able to gain a foothold by using data and technology to lower their cost of production, understand their market, educate consumers and show demand.

"A lot of it starts with social media," Lungarini said. "If you go back 10 or 15 years ago, from an advertising perspective, it was all about a TV ad. That's how people learned about products."

Today, social media offers advertising with a lower cost of entry.

"So now we can start educating people, and once they start buying it, we can show that path and the demand," Lungarini said.

But while social media is a powerful tool for advertising, Lungarini said it's also a realm that companies of all sizes must monitor constantly since it is the way data and technology are leveling the business playing field.

"Whether you're a big company or small company, you have an equal need to understand what's happening out there," he said. "You can be one of the largest manufacturers, but if someone creates a small little product and it starts going viral, they can eat into your distribution very quickly."

Lungarini got into data analytics with an emphasis on marketing. He has seen the data realm expand, and FusionPoint has evolved along with it. Beyond marketing, companies now look to Big Data and related technologies to make all sorts of business decisions and to stake out competitive advantages, he said.

In your own words, what does FusionPoint do?

We started off as an analytic company, and that was a big word then. We worked with large companies to help them understand how to use technology to optimize marketing. It centered around helping them understand how to price their product, how to segment consumers, who's buying their product, how to ship products more efficiently.

About four to five years ago, that shifted a little bit with the Big Data technologies that started coming out. It became less about an analytic exercise and more about data gathering. The mathematical or analytic type of exercise shifted to how much data can we get to see this. Instead of interpreting what's happening, it's fact based.

So we would go out and get information on everything from the economy, job rates and so forth. And the more we brought information together, the more it helped people figure out how to optimize their business, how to better understand their consumer.

Companies looking to gain a competitive advantage are really starting to see that Big Data, the technology, the analysis, the automation – "artificial intelligence" being another word for it at the moment – has value. I think we're seeing a shift where that is actually becoming a necessity to grow a business, to stay in business and keep up with the competition.

The company now is really about leveraging that data and applying it to a business opportunity. To optimize various aspects of the business, to get a deeper understanding of what is happening, both inside the business and out.

What led you to start this company?

I'm an engineer. I saw a lot of companies out there that were reinventing the wheel. Internally, data was starting to pop up. Some of the decisions they had to make were the same. And so the engineer in me said, "Why are all of these companies internally repeating these things?" Especially from a standpoint of gathering data, gathering information, running an analytic.

And there were a lot of things that people were doing from data security and where do I set it up, how do I set up the server – this was at the beginning of the whole cloud, before the whole cloud infrastructure even existed. I saw companies replicating this all of the time.

We started the company with the idea of creating an analytic platform that can run and process what a business needs to make business decisions, but the idea was to do it as a platform that worked for multiple companies so they get that economy of scale. Let's get the basics down, let's not have you reinvest in how to create a UI or how to create a login or how to create a password or how to track what a person's doing or how to gather data or how to connect to one piece or how to create a graph.

So all of that expense came out, and it allowed companies to focus on the competitive advantage. What are you going to do differently than your competitor? What data are you going to bring in? How are you going to analyze it? What are you looking for? How are you going to better target your consumer?

It really was about allowing them to put their smartest people and the resources that they've invested in into direct impact to the business, versus the support systems required to get them the information that they needed.

What changes or trends in technology are affecting your business?

There definitely is an explosion in data right now. Both the data available to you and how quickly it's being collected. The growth of data is astronomical at this point. And so, as a company that is based in data, we've been pushing along with that and are uniquely positioned and invested to keep up with that growth.

Companies out there that are trying to keep up with the growth themselves, internally, are getting to the point where they're struggling a little bit. You know, small wins, it's kind of working, but then data is growing and it's not again. So I think there's going to be a shift in relying on companies like ours, moving forward, to really help companies so that their investment is in gaining insight and value from the data.

While there used to be a handful of data points we can look at and make a decision how to move forward, it's getting to the point where there's so much information that we need help figuring out where the gem is.

Where did you grow up? What was life like?

In Connecticut, outside of New York. It was so cold. I remember it being cold and then it got colder.

If you go back to the time I was growing up there, New York was the place to be in the Northeast. Boston is right there. So there was a ton to do, and it was a fun environment to grow up in. But I think now that technology is happening, people aren't moving there, younger generations and companies aren't moving up there.

The benefit to being up there, by New York City, is going down, because stuff is spread out more. So you really could work from the South. And I think there definitely is a shift in where people are choosing to live.

What brought you to Charleston?

Weather is obviously a big part of it. But also from a standpoint of work environment and people, that concept of mixing in a little bit of work-hard-play-hard type of atmosphere. Little bit of Southern charm. And overall quality of life is a big part of it.

For a small-business owner, the biggest things are the small-business-friendly environment. From the standpoint of taxes, property taxes and everything that's placed upon you, especially as you're trying to grow a business, it's important to be in an area that is friendly to business growth.

What was your first job, or an early job? What did you learn from it?

One of my first jobs was at a funeral home. I got the job of just painting and taking care of maintenance. It was a family-owned business. They lived in the same building, and they had a small fire in it. They needed someone to pitch in and help start cleaning it, painting it, fixing stuff up.

It was an interesting environment because, in order to work in that line of industry, you have to have a little bit of a sense of humor. The folks that I worked with were a ton of fun. They were always joking around. I have to say, they were some of the most encouraging people that I've worked with.

What do you see as the future of your company?

A lot of companies need to build out their technology, need to build out their product, whereas we've been doing this for 13 years now. Our product works, and it's a little bit ahead of the curve. So the challenge for our company is really getting out there and matching with other companies that want to leverage this technology to grow.

As people start to understand they can't just learn about it and they can't just investigate it, but they actually have to start employing it, I think we're uniquely positioned to help them do that. The last 13 years we've kind of helped out a lot of bigger companies that moved ahead, and now I'm hoping that we can start really leveraging some more mid-sized to smaller companies that are really entering this space and can be more agile, move quicker.

What strategies do you use to find fulfillment both in work and outside of work?

Being an entrepreneur or small-business owner, it can consume you. Your work can quickly eat up weeks of your time where you don't get to step back and enjoy life.

One of the unique things about this area is being able to combine those. It's not necessarily that I get to step away from work, especially as we're going through the growth that we're going through, but I can still enjoy the environment that I'm in, even when I'm working.

Being able to get out for a few minutes and walk the beach and come back to work is just an aspect of living here that brings those two together and makes it feel like I'm not missing out on the personal aspects of life.


PhishLabs Spotlight

We are pleased to spotlight PhishLabs, who provide external threat intelligence, incident response, and security awareness training solutions that mitigate digital risks and give companies the control needed to protect enterprise, customers, and brands.

  • Company Founded - 2008
  • CEO - Tony Prince
  • Total number of Charleston employees - 100
  • Fun fact - PhishLabs grew so fast since 2015 that they moved office space 3 times before finding their home in Pacific Box & Crate in 2017.
  • PhishLabs Career Opportunities

COVID-19 Business Resources and Disaster Assistance

The federal government passed a sweeping $8.3 billion federal stimulus bill to support businesses affected by COVID-19. This will allow small business owners to access up to $7 billion in low-interest loans. The SBA also approved South Carolina's request for disaster assistance.  Lowcountry businesses and private, non-profit organizations can apply for low-interest loans directly through the SBA.  Local businesses can use Congressman Joe Cunningham's useful Lowcountry Business Resource Guide for additional resources. Learn more HERE.

Workiva Named One of the 2020 Best Workplaces in Technology by Great Place to Work® and Fortune for the Fourth Time

Workiva (NYSE:WK), provider of the world's leading connected reporting and compliance platform, was named one of the 2020 Best Workplaces in Technology by Great Place to Work and Fortune magazine for the fourth year.

The ranking considered survey responses on more than 60 workplace topics – including trust in leaders, inclusion, fairness and camaraderie – from over 100,000 employees at U.S. technology companies.

Workiva ranked #12 of 30 on the list of large Best Workplaces in Technology.

"Workiva is honored to again be listed alongside some of the most successful technology companies in the world," said Marty Vanderploeg, CEO of Workiva. "Workiva is a values-based company that respects and connects employees in pursuit of common goals."

"Workiva has been a vital part of Iowa's technology community for over a decade, bringing and keeping top talent in the region," said Brian Waller, President of the Technology Association of Iowa. "We are proud to see Workiva representing Iowa on a global stage."

"Workiva attracts exceptional leaders who are shaping a culture of responsible growth, not just for their own company, but for the larger tech community," said Christina Henderson, Executive Director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. "Workiva's employees get to build innovative technology in a workplace that fosters strong teams and lasting relationships."

The Best Workplaces in Technology is one of a series of rankings by Great Place to Work and Fortune based on employee feedback from Great Place to Work Certified™ organizations. This is Workiva's 12th recognition from Great Place to Work and Fortune, including two consecutive years on the 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

Blackbaud Wins Bronze Stevie® Award in 2020 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

On Friday, February 28, Blackbaud was presented with a Bronze Stevie Award in the Contact Center of the Year (Over 100 Seats) – Technology Industries category in the 14th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

At Blackbaud, our mission is to provide cloud software, services, expertise and data intelligence that empower and connect people to drive impact for social good. Ensuring our customers are fully supported is a big part of fulfilling our mission. The Support team was recognized for our focus on customer delight in 2019. Those efforts involved maturing the global Support experience for customers, including consolidating or launching new offices in Central America, Europe, the United Kingdom and Asia Pacific allowing us to provide around the clock coverage for our customers. We also expanded our Support team to include billing and invoice support for customers, improving our responsiveness and resolution time.

Additionally, we put new processes in place to improve our business response to natural disasters. Blackbaud's global headquarters is in Charleston, South Carolina – an area that has been impacted by evacuations the past four hurricane seasons. During the 2019 season, we were able to quickly deploy an offsite team well in advance of landfall projections, allowing us to continue providing support to our customers during a critical time.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world's top honors for customer service, contact center, business development and sales professionals. The Stevie Awards organizes eight of the world's leading business awards programs, also including the prestigious American Business Awards and International Business Awards.

The awards were presented to honorees during a gala banquet on Friday, February 28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. More than 600 executives from the U.S. and several other nations attended.

Details about the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service and the list of Stevie winners in all categories is available at www.StevieAwards.com/sales.

Charleston Tech Firm’s Collection of Millions of Americans’ Data Now Key to its Business

A company that started out 20 years ago to help workers enroll in their benefits programs online says collecting and leveraging data on millions of Americans is now a core part of its business.

Daniel Island-based Benefitfocus Inc., which releases its quarterly and year-end financial results Tuesday, created a software platform where employees can buy and manage their health insurance and other job perks. About 1,000 large employers, from the American Eagle retail chain to the North Carolina State Health Plan, use the technology. Read more:

Upcoming Events

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Security Essentials Bootcamp Style

Security Essentials Bootcamp Style is focused on teaching you the essential information security skills and techniques you need to protect and secure your organization's critical information assets and business systems. Our course will show you how to prevent your organization's security problems from being headline news in the Wall Street Journal! Learn more and register HERE.


Telephone Town Hall

Congressman Joe Cunningham is hosting a telephone town hall to discuss the public health and economic impacts of the coronavirus in the Lowcountry. He will be joined by a health care professional and a representative from the Small Business Administration. You can find more information about the upcoming telephone town hall HERE.


TEDxCharleston 2020: CASCADES

CASCADES embodies the spirit that triggers great force and movement within the Charleston community and beyond. The city is overflowing with energy and momentum, and Cascades illustrates that dynamic renaissance our whole area is experiencing. Our 2020 event explores timely, relevant and inspiring ideas with the power to cascade throughout the rest of the world. Learn more and get tickets HERE.

Fridays @ the Corridor – Become a Value Oriented Product Manager - Through the Science (and Art) of Pricing

If you're in B2B software, buyers are willing to pay for value. This means building that value into your capabilities, describing it through your messaging, and pricing that value into your offering.

If you're responsible for running a business, building a product or marketing it, at our March Fridays @ the Corridor, join Ryan Glushkoff, an expert in B2B software pricing, as he helps you ensure that your offering is firmly rooted in value that your customers are willing to pay top dollar for.

With over 20 years of mass market and enterprise technology experience, Ryan and his company, Fraction8, provides pricing and product marketing expertise for business to business (B2B) technology companies.

Learn more and register HERE.


DIG SOUTH Tech Summit

DIG SOUTH Tech Summit is the only event in the region purpose-built to grow the South's digital economy. Created by DIG SOUTH tech media, we connect leading global brands like Oracle, Amazon, IBM and Salesforce to the top tech leaders, founders and most scalable startups in the South.  To learn more and register, click HERE.