While the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce has long been an ally of the local business community, it's never been thought of as a physical place where business is done.
The chamber hopes that will change now that it's built the 2,000-square-foot Catalyst Center, a large meeting space being unveiled Thursday at its North Charleston headquarters.
The center, which has been under construction since March, was created to give entrepreneurs a space to brainstorm ideas, network with mentors and host meetings with potential clients or investors. It features a video-audio presentation room, private meeting spaces and other office amenities.
The center is part of the chamber's initiative to help foster the business ideas that have the potential to become successful start-up companies.
"We see this as the front door for entrepreneurs in the community when they're not sure where to go to find the resources that they need to grow," said Pennie Bingham, senior vice president of business development with the Chamber.
The Catalyst Center joins a legion of similarly-minded organizations, such as SCORE, SCRA and the Harbor Entrepreneur Center. But Bingham explained that the Chamber's project is intended to work in tandem with other organizations to support entrepreneurs at every turn.
"The big difference is, we're not offering an accelerator where companies come and work for a short amount of time, and it's not a coworking space where entrepreneurs go to work around like-minded industries," Bingham said. "Our center is a place where they can meet and gain resources about where else they can go."
Part of the Chamber's efforts included creating a separate website for entrepreneurs, www.charlestonee.com, titled the Charleston Entrepreneur Ecosystem, to connect startup companies with investors, mentors and other contacts.
"The larger goal is to create a culture where entrepreneurs are comfortable starting and growing their businesses," Bingham said. "Ultimately it will create jobs, it will create more companies, and it will have a multiplier effect on our economy."
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail