Business incubator expanding with Summerville location

The Harbor Entrepreneur Center, founders of The Harbor Accelerator business-development program, are planning to open a location in Summerville.

A business incubator for startup companies is coming to Summerville.

The Harbor Entrepreneur Center is planning to open a location in the town, the first expansion from the nonprofit's location in Mount Pleasant, officials said.

"There's a lot happening with innovation and entrepreneurship in that region and we want to connect with that," co-founder John Osbourne said about the expansion to Summerville.

Osbourne is scheduled to speak about the new center during a Greater Summerville Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce's event on Wednesday.

Summerville is planned to be one of several new locations for The Harbor Entrepreneurship Center.

The group received a $250,000 innovation grant from the S.C. Commerce Department earlier this year. That funding is helping the expansion of offices into Summerville, West Ashley, North Charleston and downtown Charleston, Osbourne said.

"This was to open multiple sites around the region," Osbourne said. "We know entrepreneurship happens in Summerville as it does in Mount Pleasant."

The Harbor Entrepreneurship Center is a recently launched business incubator that was the brainchild of Osbourne and Patrick Bryant. The center includes resources like co-working space in addition to mentors and peer groups.

Late last year, the founders launched Harbor Accelerator, a 14-week program to help entrepreneurs fast-track their business.

Such resources will help Summerville multiply entrepreneurship, said Rita Berry, president of the Greater Summerville Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce.

"This will give them an opportunity to grow and a chance to identify new opportunities," she said.

Berry added that the Osbourne's group will build on the chamber's current entrepreneurship council, which has been tasked with helping local startups succeed.

"We feel (Harbor Entrepreneurship Center) has a great number of mentors and with this new location it will get more mentors who will help the local entrepreneurs," she said.

Osbourne agreed, saying the collaboration of mentors and entrepreneurs creates additional opportunities.

"Our mission has always been to create a bunch of collisions among entrepreneurs," Osbourne said, saying the brain trust members often feed off each other. "They can meet at the harbor site ... and you can envision a meeting of individuals starting new business and they match up with people to move their business forward."