Blythewood business leaders urged to innovate

Attendees at Blythewood Chamber meeting. Jeanne Reynolds photos.

Innovation is really nothing new.

That was one of the messages delivered by Laura Corder, director of the Office of Innovation with the South Carolina Department of Commerce. She spoke to the crowd at the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast meeting Tuesday, held at Doko Manor.

“There’s nothing new about developing new products and services – you’ve been doing that for years,” Corder told the approximately 50 area business leaders at the meeting. “But now we call it by this fancy name: innovation.” And a lot of innovation is flying under the radar, she added. “South Carolina isn’t
thought of as innovative. It’s a branding problem. A lot of stuff is hidden because the story isn’t being told.”

Corder’s agency has created several programs to tell those stories and make resources that support innovation more easily available to companies of all sizes, including entrepreneurs. Scribble is a new online engagement platform designed to showcase people doing innovative work and help them collaborate.

Laura Corder, director of Office of Innovations.

Other resources available to businesses include 3Phase, which helps research-based companies acquire funding through training and proposal management at no cost to participants, and SC Codes, a new statewide program that provides free access to code education. The Blythewood Chamber’s CoWork Center is a mentor location for SC Codes. And it’s not just for techies, Corder said. “Coding is another name for digital literacy. Just like reading and writing, digital literacy is becoming necessary to function in our society.”

Corder encouraged business leaders to champion innovation in their workplaces. “Create an environment where your employees feel encouraged and safe to innovate. It’s not about having enough time or money. It comes down to appreciating our people and culture,” she said. “We can’t perfect what doesn’t exist. Just try it.”

Categories: Blythewood, Business, Richland County