By Liz Segrist
Published Oct. 8, 2012
Several Spartanburg entities have teamed up to put entrepreneurship recruitment and support into high gear.
This new collaboration is called SERN, the Spartanburg Entrepreneurial Resource Network.
It is made up of key players in the community, including: the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, S.C. Small Business Development Center, Spartanburg Community College, University of South Carolina Upstate, SCORE, Economic Futures Group and the city of Spartanburg.
The group plans to meet regularly to discuss community challenges and available resources to increase the number of entrepreneurs starting and growing businesses in Spartanburg.
Each entity has its own expertise, resources and goals to share and expand upon. Steven Hahn, the Economic Future Group’s Entrepreneurial Systems Program director, spearheaded the effort to get leaders of the local organizations working together on a regular basis.
“We want to promote entrepreneurship and let the community and beyond know that Spartanburg is a target rich community for those with an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Ron Thomas, the city of Spartanburg’s project developer for economic development.
Spartanburg has made other efforts in recent years to recruit and retain entrepreneurs in the area.
The Economic Futures Group launched the Entrepreneurial Systems Program last December. Entrepreneurs that are just starting out or those looking to expand have access to Spartanburg Community College’s Tyger River campus’ incubator space and the Entrepreneurial Council, a group of local professionals that offer mentoring and funding options.
The incubator has around 360,000 square feet of space, of which roughly 190,000 square feet is available. That’s ideal for startups, manufacturers, pre-employment training or soft landing space for a company that’s relocating to the area, said Mike Forrester, Spartanburg Community College’s economic development director.
The USC Upstate George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business opened in downtown Spartanburg in 2010 and is now working to recruit startups into its 20,000-square-foot incubator space on the third floor.
The city also plans to launch an incentive program to encourage more businesses to come to the area, but specific plans have not yet been released, said Patty Bock, the city of Spartanburg economic development director.