Harbor Accelerator expanding, opening second location in Summerville

By Andy Owens
aowens@scbiznews.com
Published July 1, 2014

The Harbor Accelerator, which offers a 14-week business program with resources and mentorships for entrepreneurs to quickly scale startups, is expanding from its first location in Mount Pleasant to a location in Summerville.

Co-founder John Osborne said The Harbor Accelerator plans to also expand into North Charleston, downtown Charleston and West Ashley as part of a $250,000 innovation grant the organization received earlier this year from the S.C. Commerce Department.

“Our plan to Commerce, and what we told them we’d do with those funds, is open other locations around the region,” Osborne said.

He said the logistics of opening several locations worked out first with Summerville, partly because of support the organization received from the town of Summerville, Dorchester County Economic Development and the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce.

Osborne is speaking at a chamber event from 7:30-9 a.m. July 9 to talk about moving into Summerville.

A specific location for the accelerator hasn’t been announced, though several technology, hospitality, mixed-use and medical companies have been drawn to the Nexton project, which is the state’s first gigabit community, located on 4,500 acres in Summerville.

“Clearly we’re talking to the city of Charleston, Charleston County ED, city of North Charleston to piece it together. Their support certainly helps get us off the ground,” Osborne said. “It’s activity that they want. It’s activity that the region wants, but logistically it’s one of 3,700 other things on their plate. It’s the only thing we care about. So just let us own that part, and we’ll do it really well.”

Osborne said organizers chose The Harbor Accelerator name so that the concept could become a regional effort with physical locations in all parts of the Charleston area. The idea is to create an environment where people and ideas can run into each other organically, regardless of where they are headquartered —sponsors, mentors and entrepreneurs involved with The Harbor Accelerator will have access to all of the organization’s facilities across the region, he said.

“We don’t need to dictate what they do with those relationships,” he said. “If that happens, they’re going to know how to move their stuff forward.”

The Harbor Accelerator plans to be open in Summerville by mid-September, and the time frame for the other locations depends on how quickly details fall into place. The Commerce Department grant runs through the end of this year.

Reach Andy Owens at 843-849-3142.

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