The 3rd annual Dig South Interactive Festival took place last week in Charleston. This festival highlights the tech industry in Charleston and features all sorts of fun events and networking opportunities among the technology firms in town and “from off.” Events include the “Dig a Job” employment fair, a Startup Shindig, a fun run through downtown Charleston, and countless seminars about small business and entrepreneurship in the Tech space. Dig South attracted 5,000 attendees this year and is yet one more example of the booming Tech Industry in Charleston and this post will highlight a number of key points regarding this interesting economy.
Currently, there are over 300 technology companies in the Charleston region. This number is up from 100 companies only 3 years ago. This not only shows strong growth but also represents some of the best paid workers in the state. With South Carolina’s average worker making $38,000 per year, tech companies in the area average salaries in the $70,000 range. This is bound to have a positive effect on not only wage growth in Charleston, but also state wide as the benefits of this burgeoning workforce’s economic power spreads in the region and state-wide.
Fueling this growth are accelerator programs such as the Harbor Entrepreneur Center, which boasts three locations, and the Flagship program which offers office space and creative collaboration for very new startups. Flagship is sponsored by the Charleston Digital Corridor, which is a tight knit community of all the area’s tech companies, offering collaboration, job services, community outreach, and more to foster growth in the Tech sector.
What does all this tech growth mean for the Charleston area? One overarching theme is that the city needs to catch up to meet the infrastructure and talent demands of this high-tech group. A major issue is the lack of space for companies and incubator projects such as the Flagship. A recent BAR approval has given the go ahead to the Flagship 3 project, to be built in the fast growing upper peninsula area. Located at 995 Morrison Drive, it is well situated in an underdeveloped NoMo corridor of the Charleston Peninsula. With ample land and underused space in this part of the downtown, the NoMo area is prime for re-development with Flagship 3 leading the way. An increasingly important factor in this area is the walkability and bike-ability of this area to some of the upper peninsula’s hottest neighborhoods, such as Cannonborough/Elliotborough, and Wagener Terrace/Hampton Park Terrace.
Another challenge facing the tech sector today is a lack of local talent. While the College of Charleston, Trident Tech, and other higher ed institutions are working to grow their computer science programs, there is still a lack of training among local residents in these areas. Another Charleston Digital Corridor initiative is known as Code Camp, a community-sourced training program offered by the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation to provide instruction in open source Web and mobile technologies. Tech companies are consistently recruiting talent from other parts of the country, leading to population growth and a boom in real estate demand.
With the strong showing this year at Dig South Interactive Festival, it is clear that the booming tech sector is here to stay in Charleston and will continue to grow our economy further with high paying jobs and opportunities for locals with the right training. If you want to learn more about how the tech industry is influencing the real estate market and what this may mean for you, contact us today !!