Rural Spotlight: Promoting Small Business Development in South Carolina
A Bold Idea With Multiple Beneficiaries
In Florence County, the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing Technology and its Gould Business Incubator are fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem and fueling small business development in South Carolina.
As of November, SiMT’s Gould Business Incubator houses 32 small businesses with seven on the waiting list. Of the 32 businesses, there are 25 African American owners, six White owners, and one Hispanic owner. Over two-thirds of the owners are female. Businesses are quite varied by industry and include four home health agencies, a speech therapist, an IT company, an insurance office, and an urban wear retailer, among others. In the incubator monthly fee, each business receives a phone line, private Wi-Fi, sign, access to a copier, mailbox, and key cards to their space. As small businesses succeed, they can grow into a larger space at the incubator and then are often eventually launched into the community. For example, the incubator was the first location for Locked Inn, an escape room. With the desire to offer four escape rooms, the owners of Locked Inn selected a location outside of the incubator and grew their business.