Digital Corridor head to step down, take new role

Charleston Digital Corridor Director Ernest Andrade will leave the public-sector job for a similar leadership role with the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation, the independent nonprofit that funds many of the organization’s programs.

More than a decade after establishing the Charleston Digital Corridor, Ernest Andrade is stepping down from his position as director of the public-private partnership organization.

But while he no longer will be on the city of Charleston’s payroll, he will remain involved with growing and supporting the local technology industry. Andrade’s new job title will be director of the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the organization, which operates independently from the city.

Andrade said his reason for moving to the new position is to be able to focus on “higher-level growth strategies.”

“In order to be able to do these things, I’ve got to be able to shed some day-to-day management tasks and focus more on the development aspects of the Digital Corridor,” he said.

The city will hire a new technology business director to replace him, he added.

Under Andrade’s guidance, the corridor was established in 2001 as a part of the city’s strategy to develop a more diverse economy. Through partnerships in the public sector, the city has been able to support its Flagship incubators. The offices on East Bay Street have offered cheap space to promising local businesses such as PeopleMatter in their early startup phases.

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The foundation was launched in 2004 to support its programs, which now include CODEcamp, which is a computer skills training workshop, and an annual run that draws more than 800 participants.

“We know that thriving economies are the result of privately led initiatives that are supported by the public sector,” said Mayor Joe Riley, who is not running for re-election. “After a decade-long incubation period, it is time to transition the Digital Corridor to this model so that the good work will continue yielding economic benefit for the city of Charleston and beyond.”

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail