‘Shrimp and Bits’ among suggestions to replace ‘Silicon Harbor’ name

Staff Report
Published July 31, 2014

Do we really want to be known as Silicon Harbor? Maybe not, if a three-day online poll in the Daily Journal is any indication.

Last week, when Chris Simpson of Blue Ion threw out a challenge to come up with something other than “Silicon Harbor” to describe Charleston’s growing tech sector, he made the case that a lot of communities are putting “silicon” in front of another word to mimic “Silicon Valley” — and he implied that Charleston could do better.

Nearly 77% of survey respondents said "Silicon Harbor" was too much like everyone else.Simpson questioned the label before an audience of several hundred business leaders during the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Power Breakfast. So we asked our readers to tell us what they thought and to offer alternatives.

Of the 175 respondents in the unscientific poll, 52% said Silicon Harbor wasn’t a good choice, and more than 40 alternative names were suggested.

Of the respondents that thought Simpson was right on target, nearly 77% said they disliked the label for the same reasons he did.

There were many comments, mostly against, but a few for. Here’s a selection. All comments are unedited except for typos and style.

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“It implies we are on the same level as Silicon Valley. We are a long ways off from being able to compete at the same level. While it has improved the jobs just aren’t here and we certainly don’t have the quality talent to fill those positions. Until we have larger tech companies that are comparable to those in Silicon Valley with the same level of compensation and benefits as well as the talent to support those jobs it just makes us look stupid duping ourselves ‘Silicon Harbor’.”

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“It fits! Lots of tech companies in the area with lots of opportunities for a developer like me. I agree lots of places are using it, but I think it’ll only stick in places where it’s true. As we get more and more publicity and national attention for our tech talent (Inc magazine Top 500 2015 anyone?), the name is only going to get more legit.”

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“It’s a ‘me too’ moniker. Los Angeles doesn’t call itself The Little Apple. Even Chicago’s Second City is tongue-in-cheek. There’s so much unique about Charleston. Why settle for something outdated and bland?”

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“It has brand recognition, just like Charleston’s incredible accolade, ‘The City of Hidden Gardens,’ which itself gives the city solid brand recognition and historical content. Silicon Harbor gives Charleston present day content recognition, and it isn’t bad!”

You can read the details, comments and data from the poll below or click here if it works better on your device. We pulled out a few results from the poll.

What would be better than ‘Silicon Harbor’?

We asked readers to suggest alternative labels to “Silicon Harbor.” Some gave it a lot of thought and seriously considered it. Others used the opportunity for commentary and humor. These are in no particular order. Several respondents pointed out that the original Silicon Harbor was in Hamburg, Germany, which is accurate. The Charleston City Paper says that Hong Kong used the name last century too.

  • Cyber Charleston
  • High-Tech Harbor
  • Charleston Technology Corridor
  • Charleston’s Tech Sector
  • LCD — Lowcountry Creative and Digital
  • Silicon Row (like Rainbow Row)
  • Tech Chuck
  • Charleston Metrotechnical Center
  • Innovation Coast
  • Something with Motherboard in it
  • Tech Charleston
  • Tech Sect
  • Carbon Harbor
  • Silicon South
  • Research Harbor
  • Tech City East
  • Holy City Tech
  • Bit Coast
  • Tech Lowcountry
  • Silicon South
  • Savvy Harbor
  • The Innovation District
  • Knowledge Harbor
  • Innovation Lowcountry
  • The Belle
  • Silicon Charleston Harbor
  • Emissions Harbor
  • Silicon Grits
  • Digital Charleston
  • Digital Harbor
  • Cheap Labor
  • Shrimp and Bits
  • Silicon Haley
  • Silicon SNOBs
  • CHSTech
  • Charlestinnovation
  • DigitalCHS
  • Tech Harbor
  • Techno Harbor
  • Rubber Coast
  • Silicon Carriage
  • Digital Palmetto

Top 3 Likes

We also asked what respondents liked and disliked about the name. Clickers could choose as many as they liked or could offer up their own. The top three likes were:

  • 57%: Characterizes the sector well.
  • 46%: Everyone knows it now, so it’s who we are.
  • 26%: The term is broad.

Top 3 Dislikes

Simpson’s sentiment that it mimics other communities was overwhelmingly picked as the No. 1 dislike.

  • 77%: Makes Charleston look like everyone else trying to add “Silicon” to their community.
  • 62%: Reads like a marketing gimmick.
  • 24%: Doesn’t characterize the sector well.
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