Anderson Business Incubator Helps Businesses e-Merge Into Competitive Markets

After five years of silence, the empty retail space at Anderson's Whitner Street parking garage will soon buzz with new ideas and enthusiasm as small businesses fill the space.

e-Merge @ the Garage has partnered with the City of Anderson to guide new and struggling businesses toward lasting success and growth. With $250,000 in grant money from the S.C. Department of Commerce and a gift of $150,000 from AT&T, Craig Kinley is beginning the process of transforming this vacant space into a place of opportunity. While AT&T is the first corporate sponsor, Kinley is working to partner with other corporations who will benefit from investing in new Anderson businesses.

Entrepreneurs who participate in this boot-camp style incubator will receive guidance from experienced mentors, along with funding opportunities without any financial commitment to e-Merge @ the Garage. Even their work space is free during the training program! Once the entrepreneurs complete the 12-week program, they will be encouraged to find a permanent space in downtown Anderson to continue their success.

e-Merge @ the Garage benefits the City of Anderson by bringing new businesses into the budding downtown area, in turn increasing foot traffic in the area and generating new tax revenue.

Our goal is "increasing the tax base and just trying to take some of that burden off the taxpayers," said Terence Roberts, the mayor of Anderson. "Nobody wants to increase millage or anything, so the only way you can do that is to increase your tax base."

This venture also benefits entrepreneurs who want to build a business, but might lack the resources to get going.

"The startup companies that engage in e-Merge @ the Garage programs will have access to industry partner mentors." Kinley explains, "The mentors will assist the startup companies in the pitfalls most entrepreneurs encounter by simply going through the motions of starting a business in taking great ideas into a practical and sustainable business model, thus e-Merge participants mitigating the challenges in the creation of startups."

The business incubator turns a decade of talk about an Anderson incubator into a reality. e-Merge @ the Garage will specialize in helping business in select industries, which include healthcare, culinary arts, education, and information technology (IT).

e-Merge @ the Garage will begin accepting applications in early 2015.

For more information about e-Meger, visit http://www.twitter.com/emergeanderson or http://www.facebook.com/emergeandersonsc.

*Photos provided by the Craig Kinley, of e-Merge @ the Garage.

Jamie Gillenwater works as a technical communication consultant for Transcend Text, LLC. Her writing focuses on her Upstate community, technical communication, and corporate training. She is an active member of the Society for Technical Communication's Carolina chapter, Connect Young Professionals, and the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Women's Leadership Council.