Did you know that Charleston’s burgeoning tech sector now comprises 600 companies, with jobs paying more than twice the regional average? In a community known for tourism and manufacturing, the area is increasingly becoming a tech hub.
The Milken Institute named the Charleston area the fifth best performing U.S. metro for high tech GDP growth. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, Avalanche Consulting rates Charleston the fastest growing mid-sized metro for IT jobs.
One strong headwind facing the tech sector in Charleston is a mismatch between company needs and the talent pool. More than half of local tech companies added jobs this year and nearly all expect to next year, but they generally must recruit from outside the area to hire tech professionals.
“As a company positioned for high growth, talent acquisition is our single most important issue,” said Omatic Software CEO Daniel Kim.
The education sector in the Lowcountry is attempting to help bridge the gap by ramping up offerings in computer sciences and systems engineering. The Lowcountry Graduate Center has offered degree and certificate programs in Computer and Information Science, Systems Engineering, Project Management, Engineering Management, LEAN Manufacturing, and more.
“We are keenly aware of the growth of the tech sector in Charleston and are committed to meeting the needs of this high-wage industry by developing and expanding our curriculum to align with the success of the tech companies in our region,” said Sebastian van Delden, Interim Dean and Professor, College of Charleston School of Sciences and Mathematics.
The tech sector in Charleston has one great selling point at its disposal: the tech sector in Charleston. The nation’s number one city for six years running, according to the readers of Travel & Leisure magazine, Charleston also now has a sufficient number of opportunities to allow a professional to uproot the family and move here for a job confident that there are other options for continued advancement and variety inside Charleston’s tech sector.
CRDA Creates Charleston Open Source
To support the growth of tech here, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) created Charleston Open Source, a tech-focused marketing campaign for the region. The centerpiece of the program is a website of the same namepromoting the Lowcountry lifestyle and the breadth of tech opportunities.
The website is power packed with information about living and working in the area, and resources galore, covering everything from community events to finding real estate, along with a healthy dose of tech-centered news, including job opportunities. First person testimonials serve as a fulcrum, adding credibility to messages like this from Miguel Buencamino, Senior QA Engineer at Snag:”I have to constantly remind myself that we live in a place where people choose to go on vacation.”
Bolstered By an Advertising Effort
Supporting the website is a CRDA marketing effort aimed at the tech crowd that has borne fruit. In the past year, digital advertising has boosted visits to the job opportunities page by 152%, and general website visits by 170%.
This effort will take patience and persistence. Charleston is engaged in hand-to-hand combat for talent with every other community attempting to grow its tech sector.
“The Lowcountry Graduate Center has committed to doing its part. “[We have] been collaborating with area businesses and government for more than a decade to equip local residents with the skills they will need to fill these highly skilled, high-paying jobs,” said LGC director Nancy Muller, who supports advisory council activities of the Charleston Open Source as a member of the CRDA.
The CRDA is seeking help from community members to aid in the effort by reporting any under-the-radar enterprises that are supporting the tech sector, for inclusion in their efforts. Jamie Dement, CRDA marketing services manager, has one other proposal. “We’re always looking for new folks to join our Charleston Open Source advisory council,” she said.