Susie Shannon Announces Preston Grisham as Initiative Director
Committed to advancing South Carolina’s growth in diverse industry sectors, the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness is announcing its newest industry initiative – TechSC – designed to accelerate the growth & innovation of technology and cybersecurity firms and to expand the talent pipeline in this red-hot sector.
Governor Henry McMaster hailed the announcement as a next step in advancing the state’s competitiveness in the industry, saying, “The technology sector is among South Carolina’s fastest growing, but we’re always looking for competitive advantages that help to attract companies to our state and help them succeed once they establish a presence here. TechSC will be an invaluable resource for South Carolina’s business community, and we look forward to seeing all that will be accomplished with this new initiative.”
A recent preliminary analysis commissioned by the Council and conducted by University of South Carolina economist Dr. Joey Von Nessen indicated that South Carolina’s technology industry consists of approximately 141,903 employees and 8,501 businesses with an average overall wage of $72,393.
Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt noted that cybersecurity and technology now impact every corner of our economy, a fact that led the Council to emerge as an ideal home for a statewide tech initiative. “We’re not only seeing growth within the sector itself, but we also have rapid advancements within all of the state’s major industries,” said Secretary Hitt. “From Industry 4.0 and advanced manufacturing to innovation in composites within our aerospace sector to blockchain and autonomous vehicles in logistics, South Carolina businesses are embracing the latest in technology. The Council’s statewide presence in all of those sectors makes it easy to incorporate technology into the work they’re already doing.”
TechSC will focus on five core objectives:
• To grow and expand the talent pipeline to serve the tech sector
• To promote a competitive infrastructure & business environment
• To manage, market, & connect the tech sector
• To grow the technology sector
• To foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and research
Along with the introduction of TechSC, Susie Shannon, President & CEO of the Council, announced that Preston Grisham has been added to the Council team to lead the initiative. Preston is a technology and public policy professional with a background in government, communications, public affairs, and computer programming. He previously spent nearly ten years working for the U.S. House of Representatives handling a variety of technology policy issues. Most recently, he served as the Sr. Manager of Public Policy Communications for the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) where he worked with the state and federal government affairs teams to promote advocacy efforts and communicate with elected officials and grassroots leaders on technology policy.
“TechSC will operate similarly to the Council’s other industry initiatives — SC Aerospace and SC Logistics — and bring together partners from industry, government, and academia to focus on areas of greatest need within South Carolina’s tech industry,” said Shannon. “This initiative will launch with several working groups that will allow partners to immediately get involved and focus on areas of interest within the technology sector. Some initial working group topics include Workforce Development, STEM Education, Policy, Procurement, a CIO/CISO roundtable, and Cybersecurity.”
Recognizing that cyber resiliency is a necessary area of focus, the cybersecurity working group has been dubbed SC CyberAlley and has already established itself as a critical resource to the state as South Carolina’s ports, military operations, and other government assets seek to ensure that they’re well protected from digital threats. The same holds true for manufacturing, agriculture, and other business enterprises that now operate with advanced technologies and need to have a coordinated and robust cybersecurity program in place.
Bill Kirkland, Executive Director of the University of South Carolina’s Office of Economic Engagement, echoed that sentiment saying, “I’ve seen first-hand the level of success that can be achieved with innovation, collaboration, and strategy. We saw this with launching initiatives like SC Cyber and the numerous wins we’ve had in converging businesses, researchers, entrepreneurs, and government. As technology and cybersecurity continue to evolve and impact an ever-growing list of industries, it’s ideal for the Council to assume the charge of leading statewide efforts to coalesce the technology industry sector. These are exciting times for South Carolina’s cybersecurity and technology industries and we look forward to ongoing collaboration with the Council.”
Bob Quinn, Executive Director of the South Carolina Research Authority, said that a statewide initiative that facilitates connecting the people, resources, and organizations leading technology efforts will result in a win for the state as a whole. “Technology changes at lightning speed and South Carolina’s innovation economy is rapidly growing. By expanding the ecosystem that supports technology in the state, we can better sustain that growth by leveraging the talent and resources already here and attracting new talent and innovators to South Carolina.”
John Lummus, President & CEO, Upstate SC Alliance said, “Technology is a growing segment for businesses across all sectors, and we’re pleased to see TechSC emerge as a resource to unify the technology leaders among existing South Carolina industries and businesses. In addition, we look forward to working with TechSC as a collaborative partner in recruiting digital companies as the state seeks to diversify its economy and broaden its tech-oriented workforce.”
David Pankau, President & CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina was pleased to announce the company’s partnership with TechSC; saying, “Technology is at the heart of our business and we have made a commitment to foster innovation that improves health and well-being in South Carolina. Our partnership with the Council and its TechSC initiative underlines our commitment to innovation in the state and we’re glad to be a part of driving its mission forward.”
Steven Malme, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Platform Strategy for Benefitfocus, a cloud-based benefits management platform and services provider out of Charleston said that his company is eager to support the TechSC initiative. “With a long-standing presence in South Carolina’s technology community, Benefitfocus naturally supports the efforts of TechSC. We enthusiastically sign on to this important strategic initiative as a launch partner. TechSC partners can connect our state, our businesses, and our people together to grow and position South Carolina as a major contributor to the global tech economy. By fostering new opportunities for employers and technology professionals now and in the future, and by creating the right technology support infrastructure, we can achieve the growth we all desire. Benefitfocus is united with TechSC to make its vision a reality.”
Other TechSC partners also voiced their support of the initiative and reiterated its importance to the state.
Rick Oppedisano is President and CEO for Delta Bravo AI, a TechSC partner company based in Rock Hill that uses Artificial Intelligence to help with complex database management and Machine Learning to help companies make better use of data. He reiterated that a strong network of resources can be the differentiator in establishing a thriving technology sector, “Great technology communities and high-growth startups don’t just grow on Palmetto trees,” adds Oppedisano. “A strong, statewide technology ecosystem is rooted in vision and stability. This effort provides critical guidance, feedback, and resources for established firms as well as innovative new companies seeking to grow in South Carolina.”
Rob Cheng, CEO and Founder of PC Matic said, “As cyber-threats continue to wreak havoc on homes, businesses, and local governments, we’re thrilled to partner with TechSC, an organization whose mission is to raise awareness and drive results around the most pressing cybersecurity issues facing our state and nation. PC Matic is committed to increasing the resilience of America’s cybersecurity infrastructure, and our partnership with TechSC will only further our ability to do so.”
Nina Magnesson, CATALYST for Citizenship & Social Innovation Executive for BoomTown said, “BoomTown is excited to be a part of a statewide initiative to accelerate tech workforce development – helping to provide the level of skills training and education needed for the predicted 35,000 new jobs that are coming in the next 5 years to the Charleston Metro area alone. We need an organization that can help us connect each of the burgeoning tech industry hubs in our state (Charleston, Greenville, Beaufort, Columbia) enabling us to join forces, resources and exponentially catch up to the increasing demand for skilled tech professionals. It is our economic imperative.”
Patrick Bryant CEO of Code/+/Trust, a software development firm out of Charleston said, “South Carolina is in a talent crisis in software development fields. Together our tech industry can address the needs while lifting up all of our citizens around the state. TechSC will unite our tech ecosystem and create measurable solutions to our growth problems.”
Ann Brooks, Government Affairs Manager of the Carolinas for Crown Castle, the nation’s largest provider of communications infrastructure said, “As South Carolina continues to grow its innovation economy, it’s the right time for an industry partnership to help drive development in the new technology ecosystem. By prioritizing technology, the Palmetto state will strengthen its workforce and help shape the jobs of tomorrow. That is why Crown Castle is proud to be a founding member of TechSC. We look forward to growing together.”
“From day one, TechSC is well positioned to make sure that the cybersecurity and technology industries will thrive in our state,” said Grisham. “Our partners are ready to get to work, we’re already pooling talents and resources, and the foundation for success is in place.”
Sign up to learn more about TechSC at www.sccompetes.org/techsc or contact Preston Grisham at [email protected]. Preston and Susie are also available for presentations for those organizations interested in having a more in-depth conversation about the technology trends in South Carolina.