As part of the team that is diversifying Bluffton's economy, I was surprised by the Nov. 18 headline, "Has Bluffton-based business incubator provided economic boost? It's still too early to tell, entrepreneurs and incubator officials say." The Island Packet's website headline was even more surprising, "After 18 months, incubator's value to Bluffton hard to measure, startups say."
The headlines did not reflect the article's content or theme. Furthermore, I am unaware of any former or current innovator who feels that way about the Don Ryan Center for Innovation.
Collectively and, in time, the results of creating knowledge-based, innovative companies will be realized. Just as in building Rome, it's one brick at a time.
Only 18 months ago, Bluffton was the first town or city in South Carolina to create a business incubator in a non-metropolitan area of the state. Judging the economic contribution of this public-private partnership is premature. However, in those 18 months, the center already has six graduates who are employing people. Currently, we have a full roster of innovators who will grow their businesses in Bluffton.
Bluffton was the pioneer for others. Based in part on our success, Clemson, which has put more than one $1 million into its Technology Villages program, has already opened two other incubators in Hartsville and Rock Hill. This is a statewide initiative that we are helping to grow.
On behalf of the town, we are proud of the progress made by being proactive in creating better jobs and a better economy for Bluffton's current and future residents.
Editor's note: Nelems is the executive director of the Don Ryan Center For Innovation.