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Technology Initiatives Along The Grand Strand

"What will it look like in ten years?"Jason Greene, President of the Grand Strand Technology Council smiled excitedly as though he had been waiting for me to ask this question. “I see a thriving tech community that is a major sustainer of the local economy! We will be a place that tech companies seek out and rising generations of innovators are equipped to push us forward. It is a place to launch your startup, run your small business, and visit for an incredible beach experience.” 

There exists a large mass of people that agree with this vision for the Grand Strand. They are collectively called the Grand Strand Technology Council, and this year has been the most legendary since the very first.

 Dr. John Sanders founded the Grand Strand Technology Council in 2007. He has been involved in starting tech councils since the late 80’s, spanning the regions of Northern Virginia, Suburban Maryland, and more prominently the Greater Washington DC Technology Council. Included in his efforts of developing a tech presence in Washington DC was his service as the Chairman and CEO of TechNews, Inc. - a newspaper for leaders in the tech industry that was sold to the Washington Post in 1996. 

For more than twenty years, Dr. Sanders was an investment banker, specializing in the equity financing of emerging technology corporations. He has been the principal in the initial public offerings of a dozen companies and has served as advisor to numerous other public corporations. More than forty private placements of equity capital have been organized through his efforts, including startup entrepreneurial situations as well as
established public entities. 

After moving to Myrtle Beach with his wife, Carole, he noticed that the Grand Strand tech industry looked much like the DC area in the early nineties! This inspired him to start getting involved in the work of catalyzing the growth of a local tech ecosystem.

Knowing from experience that it all starts with the quality education of the school system, he used $5,000 to set up technology fairs in the Horry and Georgetown County Schools - to which he attributes success to the hard work of local educators working from within the schools. Connecting the existing technology companies with one another to share ideas, resources, and knowledge was a following objective. From this activity, programs started to take shape.

Soon after there was a Robotics Support Initiative with over 125 volunteers per year, organized by the Grand Strand Tech Council. There were also local tech industry leaders ready to roll up their sleeves and advance the regional tech landscape, from whom the Startup.SC initiative for entrepreneurial support was founded. 

Now, in 2015, the Grand Strand Tech Council has just re-branded, re-organized, and re-strategized. GS Tech has evolved into six initiatives with a focus to promote, support, and enhance the region’s technology cluster, the education system, and local government goals in both Horry and Georgetown County. 

Tech After School is the newest program. It provides extra-curricular STEM programs with mentorship and funding. We work with school administration to develop programs that foster exciting and relevant handson experience. GS Tech is planning a pilot program in both Horry and Georgetown County in 2016. 

Robotics Support provides funds and connects volunteers to local chapters of one of the largest robotics competitions in the United States. Students on robotics teams learn hands on applied sciences and professional skills such as collaboration and project management. 

TechConnect is another very recent launch. The kickoff event took place in October of 2015. TechConnect hosts a valuable monthly event series for small business and government agencies to learn about current technology challenges and connect with a network of solution providers. TechConnect is focused on thoroughly addressing topics relevant to business
leaders on the Grand Strand. 

Women In Technology is an organization of local leaders in tech-related careers that gather to advance women and girls through education, mentorship, and networking. Startup.SC provides community, office space, and mentorship to entrepreneurs launching scalable technology companies from the Grand Strand. The Dr. John D. Sanders Technology Leadership Awards and Scholarships Program was created to recognize and promote our most dedicated students, industry leaders and committed mentors that have made a difference or displayed outstanding achievement through each initiative. Upon his “second retirement,” Sanders appointed Jason Greene, long time local, to be the next fearless leader of the Council. Knowing the legacy that the Grandfather of Grand Strand Tech is entrusting to him, Jason is running out of the gates in full force. 

“I believe that we are truly going to transform our community with the resources that the GS Technology Council distributes. I am already humbled by the large group of inspiring and dedicated individuals within the council that have been working at this for years, and I think we are in the perfect position to catalyze the impact of their efforts!” – Jason Greene, President of the GS Technology Council. 

If you want to learn more about the new and improved GSTC initiatives, visit www.gstechcouncil.org.

by Meagan Nowacoski

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