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Hartsville to get 'technology incubator'
[January 30, 2013]

Hartsville to get 'technology incubator'

Jan 29, 2013 (The Messenger - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- Hartsville will soon have its own 'technology incubator' designed to boost business investment in the city and bring technology-related jobs to the community.

City Council gave first-reading approval to an ordinance authorizing the lease of office space in a city-owned building in the downtown area to the newly formed Hartsville Community Development Foundation. The building is located at 145 W. Carolina Ave. and currently houses the city's Public Service Department. The foundation will lease the front part of the building while city staff will continue to use the back portion of the building.

The lease agreement will provide office space for the foundation and space where entrepreneurs can share ideas and, officials hope, foster the growth of technology-oriented businesses that will bring new higher-paying jobs to Hartsville.

Officials also hope that creating new technology-related jobs locally will generate new and keep it in the city.

The nonprofit Hartsville Community Development Foundation was established last June as an initiative of the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce to foster community improvement projects.

The foundation will partner with Clemson University to develop and implement the technology incubator project. Clemson will provide services and support for the project.

The project is based on a model that is being used successfully used in Bluffton, officials said.

Its Board of Directors includes representatives of the chamber, city government, Coker College, the S.C. Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, industry, small business, utilities and finance.

The community development foundation is working on developing a master plan for Hartsville using $100,000 in grant funding provided by the Byerly Foundation.

"We need a space where ideas can grow," said Nancy McGee, co-chair of the foundation's Board of Directors.

Council also agreed to allow the city manager negotiate an agreement with the foundation over the cost of employee services.

Earlier this month, McGee asked council to consider designating a director the foundation plans to hire as a city employee. The city manager will serve as the director's supervisor.

Funding for the position will be provided by the foundation but will be funneled through the city as a "conduit." In addition to the lease and employment agreement, council also agreed to give the community development foundation $20,000 in city funds for the sole purpose of demolishing derelict houses in the city.

City officials said the foundation, because of its interest in improving the physical appearance of Hartsville, has expressed a willingness to run a program to aid property owners in the demolition of uninhabitable or abandoned dwellings with the financial support of city government.

Officials said the move will help the city by expediting efforts to clean up and get rid of uninhabitable or abandoned dwellings and improve the appearance of the city.

The employment agreement and the demolition agreement were approved through two resolutions, which require only one reading. The ordinance authorizing the lease agreement will require final approval on second reading which is expected in February.

___ (c)2013 The Messenger (Hartsville, S.C.) Visit The Messenger (Hartsville, S.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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