Business incubators growing on the Grand Strand

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) -Timber, tobacco and tourism are all major economic engines for our area. Now, there is a big push to bring another 'T' to our area: technology.

Soon, a storefront snuggled between The Crafty Rooster and Rivertown Bistro will host Fifth T, a business incubator aimed at creating and growing technology-based businesses.

Michael Roberts, the Dean of the College of Science at CCU, explained the concept behind the incubator is "to give them the tools to be a successful entrepreneur and run a successful business."

Those tools include building a business plan, presenting ideas to a potential investor, and guidance on how to negotiate for a space lease. In the works for years now, the Dean began by looking at other incubator ideas in the state, including Clemson University.

"They actually identified this region as one where they wanted to put an incubator," said Dean Roberts.

A partnership between Clemson, CCU, HGTC, and the City of Conway was formed and a non-profit is now in place to oversee the technology incubator.

"Fifth T was created. It stands for the 5 economic drivers of the region: you have turpentine, tobacco, timber, and tourism," explained Dean Roberts.

Georgetown County is also looking for a slice of the technology pie. A non-profit startup incubator called Startup SC will open on the Grand Strand.

Organizers believe it will build a $10 million technology industry over the next five years.

Dean Roberts points out there is an economic ripple effect from the incubator in Conway. Each storefront that opens will drive up foot traffic and business

"If you are the business next door, you have the people working in that storefront and also the people coming to buy from that storefront," said Dean Roberts.

Fifth T isn't only open to college students. It will be a resource to anyone in the community with an idea for a new technology business.

Dean Roberts said in two weeks, training will begin for incubator leaders. After the 12-week program, he hopes the doors will open for technology entrepreneurs by the end of the Fall.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.