The 2013 state legislative session closed late last week, so to gauge how tech fared this year in Columbia, let's take a quick look at a few representative efforts.
Angel investment incentive: One clear win for the state's technology start-ups and investors was the passage of the so-called High Growth, Small Business Job Creation Act.
If Gov. Nikki Haley signs it, the bill will allow accredited angel investors, anyone whose net worth exceeds $1 million or who makes more than $200,000 per year, to claim a 35 percent tax credit on money they put into small, early stage South Carolina companies.
The bill will cap total tax credits at $5 million per year and require some aggregate reporting of the investments and their results.
For a few years now, people in the business have been trying to get the incentive passed to bring South Carolina in line with several other states, including neighbors in the Southeast. Now on the cusp of reality, this is how SCBIO's Wayne Roper promoted the bill's passage in an email last week: “South Carolina startups, entrepreneurs get help growing great jobs.”
Incubators?: One initiative still hanging in the balance this year is a plan to set up tech incubators at the state's colleges.
Last year, the House included $2 million in matching funds for a digital media incubator at the College of Charleston, but it didn't end up happening: Haley vetoed it, the House overrode her veto, and then there didn't end up being enough money anyway.
The plan has since morphed. Instead of money going directly to the college, now any appropriation will go through the S.C. Department of Commerce and then be divided among multiple incubator sites.
According to College of Charleston Senior Vice President Bobby Marlowe, the House has budgeted some $5 million for incubators, but it must go through conference committee, ratification, the governor's office, etc., before it's a funded program.
“I really stress that the whole thing with the center right now is really in flux because there's a lot of moving parts ... that have to move into place before we know if we have money or how much,” he said.
Solar: Like the angel investor advocates, the solar energy industry in South Carolina has been trying to make individual investment in sun power more feasible and affordable, like it is in neighboring states.
But the effort failed last year, and this year's bill didn't make it out of the House or Senate. After an official review, the idea is slated for reconsideration next year.
In short, it once again seems the Palmetto State is increasingly interested in promoting high-tech here, but there remains a ways to go.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_ brendan.
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