Charleston Startup Economy - Charleston, SC Digital CorridorA new study of up-and-coming tech hubs says Charleston is poised to pop.

TechNet, a Washington-based innovation advocacy group, says the Lowcountry ranks No. 25 on its "startup economy index." The measure looked at what proportion of job postings in an area used the word "startup."

Michael Mandel, the Progressive Policy Institute researcher who came up with the index, says it offers an insight into how many tech companies are hiring. And while not every employer calling itself a startup actually is one, it gives an indication of how locals think about the tech economy.

Charleston landed relatively high on the list, on the same tier as cities like Houston, Pittsburgh and Richmond, Va. At the top of the list were traditional tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle.

Linda Moore, chief executive of TechNet, praised the region's colleges, economic-development efforts and quality of life. She said the city has a good mix of big employers such as Blackbaud, Benefitfocus and Booz Allen Hamilton, and a slew of startups angling to match them one day.

But like several other cities with nascent tech sectors, she said it still has work to do on helping entrepreneurs find talented workers and funding to pay for their ideas. Much of the policy work that could help ease those shortfalls, she says, is done at the state and local level.

Ernest Andrade, director of the tech economic-development initiative Charleston Digital Corridor, cheered the news, calling it "gratifying external validation to what we have accomplished in Charleston over the past 15 years."

"The key to accelerating our start-up economy is to further coordinate and align the state, regional and local efforts to tease out additional economic value," Andrade said in an email.

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