by Paul Bowers
On Tuesday, the business magazine Fast Company ran a feature on its website announcing Charleston's arrival as "Silicon Harbor," a burgeoning tech hub. According to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Charleston is among the top 10 fastest growing cities for software and internet technology, despite being the 75th-largest metro area in the United States.
A few words on the history of the "Silicon Harbor" nickname: Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. used it in his State of the City address in January, and he credited the coinage to Nate DaPore, CEO of PeopleMatter. DaPore started the company about two-and-a-half years ago in the Flagship business incubator on East Bay Street, relocated to a more spacious headquarters on the Navy Yard in North Charleston, and is currently orchestrating a move to office space on Upper King Street by the end of 2013.
The Web domain siliconharbor.com is registered to the city-run Charleston Digital Corridor, although the agency has yet to do anything with it. Interestingly, Charleston is not the first city to call itself Silicon Harbor. Hamburg, Germany, has been called Silicon Harbor, and someone there has already snapped up the Twitter username @SiliconHarbor. And Hong Kong used the name way back in the '90s.
Regardless of the originality of the nickname, the Fast Company article mentions several companies to justify including Charleston in the ranks of tech-savvy up-and-comers: TwitPic (the founder of which, Noah Everett, moved to Charleston from Oklahoma after making it big and then launched Heello, which is, you know, totally different than Twitter), Blackbaud (which has its headquarters on Daniel Island), Boeing (in North Charleston), Google (which has a data center in Goose Creek), and Amazon's self-publishing wing CreateSpace (which signed a lease for the old North Charleston City Hall in April).
The story ends with a promising quote from PeopleMatter CEO DaPore:
"We've gotten to a point where [the tech scene] is able to sustain itself, and we don't get the question of people who relocate to the area, 'What happens if I move here and lose my job?"