The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at the University of South Carolina Upstate’s George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics (JCBE) has announced a new online resource portal to serve aspiring entrepreneurs in the Upstate.
Developed in partnership with Studio Upstate, a graphic design agency run by USC Upstate students, the CEI Entrepreneurial Resource Portal provides easy online access to a variety of current and relevant resources for funding, education, government and community initiatives, mentors, workspace and professional services.
“We are excited and delighted to announce the launch of this new resource to strengthen the Upstate’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and enhance community vitality,” said JCBE’s Dean Mohamed Djerdjouri.
The portal, which is live now, will soon feature a Connect and Collaborate Forum, enabling entrepreneurs to connect with other small business owners in the Upstate, as well as a growing global community of startups, advisors and talent.
“The Entrepreneurial Resources Portal serves as an online, information gateway to bring together, in one location, multiple resources Upstate entrepreneurs need access to for their success,” said Brian Brady, CEI’s director and a JCBE instructor. “Initial feedback from a live demonstration to a select group of Upstate entrepreneurs has been extremely positive. It is a free service and we look forward to adding more functionality based on ongoing feedback from our user community.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Upstate with unique challenges,” Brady added. “We are delighted to introduce this portal to help them navigate during these unprecedented times.”
JCBE faculty and students will have opportunities to use the portal and potentially interact with entrepreneurs through practical research and consulting projects.
“Entrepreneurs across the Upstate need access to specific resources to be successful,” Djerdjouri said. “This portal is a simple-to-use, highly effective tool that will help entrepreneurs identify and access resources. It also highlights the JCBE’s increasing partnership with the communities of the Upstate.”
Development of the Entrepreneurial Resources Portal is consistent with the JCBE’s five-year strategic plan. It will support several of the college’s key objectives:
- To supply the Upstate with productive and qualified business graduates.
- To support the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Upstate through business incubation.
- Nurture and expand business and community engagement opportunities in the region.
- Serve as a knowledge resource for the Upstate and establish research centers.
- Leverage international opportunities to share knowledge within the Upstate and abroad.
Sam Cooper, director of strategic initiatives and special projects for the JCBE, who led the development of the portal, explained that the Association to Advance Collegiate Business Schools (AACSB) International, the JCBE accrediting agency, developed new standards in 2020 in support of its vision that “business education be a force for good in society.”
“The Entrepreneurial Resource Portal is one example of the JCBE working to strengthen the community by providing entrepreneurial resources,” Brady said. “This portal will assist with the development of positive partnerships between local Upstate communities and entrepreneurs throughout and beyond this region.”
Djerdjouri, Brady and Cooper praised USC Upstate alums Alexandra Dawson, ’20, and Garrett Black, ’21, for their assistance in conducting research for and designing the portal, stating their work was “invaluable to the project.”
Local business leaders expressed their excitement about the portal.
“I have had hopes and a vision since my Liberty Fellows project in 2008-10 of having a platform that offers Spartanburg entrepreneurs all of the tools in the toolbox,” said John Bauknight, president of Long Leaf Holdings LLC, owner of RJ Rockers Brewing Co. and Senior Associate at NAI Earle Furman. “The Upstate Entrepreneurial Resource Portal has accomplished that vision. This will be a tremendous asset to our current entrepreneurial community and will enable us to recruit entrepreneurs from across the country. Well done USC Upstate!”
“This is an excellent community initiative to boost entrepreneurial spirit by providing a one-stop resource guide for budding entrepreneurs,” said Yash Bhatia, founder and CEO of Datos Technologies.
“Sharpen wouldn’t be here without the JCBE and the important connections they have coordinated for companies like ours in the Upstate,” said Robyn and Tim Farrell, co-founders of Sharpen. “Similar to the GreenHouse Business Incubator before it, the CEI Entrepreneurial Portal is another innovative initiative that demonstrates USC Upstate’s commitment to further support entrepreneurs in the Upstate.”
To view the portal, visit www.uscupstatecei.org.