Growing Area Business: The Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Development

As part of Spartanburg Community College’s commitment to be a “key partner in advancing the Upstate’s economy,” the Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Development at SCC’s Middle Tyger Campus has for the last seven years provided space, training, and other resources to more than 30 companies that were relocating to the Upstate, starting up, or expanding.

The facility on Highway 290 in Duncan was purchased in 2005 by Spartanburg Community College to meet the needs of businesses, the college, and the region’s economic development. Its size is best appreciated from an aerial view—what can be seen from the road is just a small portion of the 363,000 square feet currently available for office, warehouse, and manufacturing use. The site is in a foreign trade zone, making it attractive to international companies who don’t have to pay duties on their products until they’re market ready.

There are 16 fully furnished offices on site that businesses can move right into, with other amenities such as a conference room, resource room, meeting room, and kitchen. Currently, Tokyo-based carbon fiber manufacturer Toray occupies six of those offices while they are hiring and gearing up for their new U.S. expansion in Moore.

The Center has provides four core services to new and existing businesses: soft landing, which eases the transition period for an existing business to relocate to the Upstate; a small business incubator, giving new businesses space and basic office services for up to a year before they move to permanent space; workforce employment services, including screening, hiring, and training of employees; and special projects, which can include temporary warehousing, beta testing of a new process, or training sessions.

The soft landing assistance goes beyond simple logistics such as space and equipment to include immigration assistance, translation services, legal assistance, and assistance with housing for relocated employees.

One of the businesses that has successfully moved from a CBED user to a local economic driver is Jankel Tactical Systems. The British military supplier, whose products offer protection to combat personnel, brought its U.S. operation to the Center in 2008 while it built up a strong base of contracts before moving to a permanent facility in Duncan. In a testimonial, Jankel’s chairman, Andrew Jankel, attributed the company’s decision to locate its U.S. operation in Spartanburg County to the assistance it received from the Center.

The Center is run by SCC’s Director of Economic Development and South Carolina state representative Mike Forrester. “Pretty much any company that is looking to open in Spartanburg County works with us in some way,” he says.

Also housed in the facility are representatives from Small Business Association partners SCORE and the Spartanburg area SBDC (Small Business Development Centers). Between Forrester’s industry knowledge and the resources provided by those two organizations, says Elizabeth Smith, Spartanburg area SBDC manager, “We have a whole network of resources and can get businesses what they need. Getting to know each other and what we all have to offer has been the key to being able to help people get up and running.”

Although most of the businesses that are housed in the center are there on a temporary basis, one company, Jeffreys Manufacturing Solutions, isn’t going anywhere—that’s because they’ve partnered with Spartanburg Community College to allow students to train on equipment that would cost the college tens of thousands of dollars to provide, Forrester says. The Center also has a partnership with CU-ICAR, providing the manufacturing space to bring concepts developed at CU-ICAR to market.

An economic impact study prepared by SCC in 2014 asserts that CBED has brought 10,552 jobs to the area since 2007, which has resulted in nearly $639 million in earnings and over $34 million in combined sales and income tax revenue. Future projections estimate an additional 1,000 jobs a year through the services provided by the Center.

Sharon Purvis is a freelance writer and editor who makes her home with her husband in Duncan, South Carolina.