by Paul Bowers
CEO Charlie Ray says the company closed up shop in Charleston in 2009 and relocated to Austin, Texas, because "we didn't have any clients in Charleston and it wasn't making financial sense for us to continue here." Nowadays, Broad Street Interactive does work for companies all along the East Coast, and Ray relishes the opportunity to come back to a place where "people won't look at me crazy if I wear a seersucker suit." The company will continue to be headquartered in Austin, but Ray and two employees are working from the Charleston office.
"Austin is a different business environment," Ray says. "It's very much shorts, a T-shirt, and flip-flops. It's a very entrepreneurial city, which I appreciate, and it brings in great talent."
Part of the draw for Ray to return to Charleston was the offer of discounted rent and a no-hassle office space. By joining the Digital Corridor, a private-public partnership aimed at drawing tech startups to the Holy City, Ray got a special rate on a turnkey office at 164 Market Street, where he can entertain clients and have meetings. He says the office is a temporary one until they can find their own place, but he appreciated the convenience of moving into a furnished office with internet access already set up.
"I think Charleston has a lot in common with Austin in that it has a great quality of life that has the opportunity to draw really top-tier talent and businesses to this economy," Ray says. "And I'm hopeful that Charleston will see that and court that and encourage businesses like mine to be here, not necessarily through just incentives, but embracing — as folks from Charleston like to say — 'people from off.' I think that it's time for Charleston's business structure to embrace people from off in order to continue to move the city into the future, and I'm hopeful that we can be a part of that."