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The Grand Strand Startup Initiative (GSSI) is among the group selected organizations to receive grant funding support from the South Carolina Department of Commerce, towards fostering high-tech and entrepreneurial endeavors in South Carolina.

in its inaugural round of innovation-related grants, the South Carolina Department of Commerce is awarding $2,4 million in grand funds to 14 organizations across the state to further high-tech and entrepreneurial economic development.

As part of its efforts to support and grow an innovative, technology-based and entrepreneurial business environment, the Department of Commerce launched the state’s first Office of Innovation in the fall of 2013. In January, the Department of Commerce issued a notice of funding opportunity, dubbed the South Carolina Innovation Challenge, soliciting proposals for projects that focus on fostering technology-based economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation in South Carolina communities through university collaboration, local government participation or public-private partnerships. Projects were required to address one or more goals of the South Carolina Innovation Plan.

Proposals totaling more than $6.8 million in requests from cities, county offices, chambers of commerce, universities and startup incubators and accelerators were submitted for $2.5 million in available first-round funds. A project could be awarded a maximum of $250,000 in grant funds, with a required non-state match of funds. A second round of competitive grant funds likely will be announced later this year.

“I’m excited to see the energy and impact that South Carolina’s startup community has created, and we hope to help continue that momentum through this new program,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “The knowledge economy represents a vital part of South Carolina’s present and future. Through the Office of Innovation, we want to create a business environment in South Carolina that is ideal to start and build a high-growth company.”

Projects at 14 organizations in Anderson, Beaufort, Charleston, Darlington, Florence, Greenville, Horry, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg and York counties were selected to receive funding. These diverse projects focus on IT training, entrepreneur support, fostering startup companies and agribusiness.

The Grand Strand Startup Initiative (GSSI) is a comprehensive plan for fostering scalable startups as a focused and ongoing economic development effort in Georgetown and Horry counties.

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