September 10, 2015

Charleston At A Crossroads

Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation
Mayoral Candidates Talk TechMayoral Candidates Talk Tech

Charleston stands squarely at the crossroads of history and future. The steady leadership of Mayor Joe Riley led Charleston to emerge from one of the South's best kept secrets to a world-class hospitality destination.

While that is an impressive legacy, perhaps more important for the future of Charleston are the seeds of innovation and opportunity Mayor Riley has sown for his successor.

The diversification of Charleston's economy quietly began more than a decade ago through the Digital Corridor initiative. The results have been nothing short of spectacular:

* Charleston's tech economy is growing 26 percent faster than the national average.

* Per-capita wage growth is almost double the national average.

* Compared to other midsize metro areas in the United States, Charleston consistently ranks in the top 10 fastest growing for software industries and occupations.

* More than 300 tech-related companies have been created, accounting for more than 5,000 jobs and almost 5 percent of the regional economy.

This growth, achieved with minimal city investment, brought huge dividends to the area. One job created in the high-tech sector leads to the creation of four additional jobs. Higher per-capita wage growth leads to greater consumer spending and investment, as well as gains in city and regional revenues.

These are promising facts. Not only will Charleston's next mayor inherit a thriving city, but one with explosive growth potential for the next generation. Growing the tech community to account for 10 percent of the regional economy is an entirely realistic goal over the next five years.

With rapid growth also come challenges; growing and attracting tech talent to keep up with increasing demand, aligning a lagging infrastructure (broadband access, flexible office space and transportation) and housing in the peninsula to support future growth.

This week, Charleston's mayoral candidates meet with local technology leaders to share their views on how to address these challenges and discuss their ideas for ensuring our tech community's continued growth. This meeting is more than an obligatory campaign stop. It is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate both commitment to Mayor Riley's legacy of economic diversification and vision for how they intend to build on that opportunity.

As Mayor Riley readies to pass the baton, we welcome the opportunity to work with the mayoral candidates to help maintain the lead they have been given.


Grier Allen - President & CEO, BoomTown

Ernest Andrade – Director, Charleston Digital Corridor

Nate DaPore - President & CEO, PeopleMatter

Mitchell Davis - Chief Business Officer, Bibliolabs

Kevin Eichelberger - President & CEO, Blue Acorn

Kirk King – President, CSS

John LaCour – CEO, PhishLabs

Marc Murphy – CEO, SPARC

Valerie Sessions – Associate Professor & Chair, Computer Science Department, CSU

Peter Woodhull - Founder & CEO, Modus21