• Project image

Quick Facts

Project Name
NEXT Innovation Center
Greenville New Markets Opportunity, LLC (GNMO)
Total Development Cost
GNMO Allocation
411 University Ridge
Greenville, SC 29601
Hughes Development Corporation
Square Footage
Leveraged Lender
Carolina First Bank
Tax Credit Investor
Innovation Center Fund, LLC
Permanent Jobs
200 Direct
136 Indirect/Induced
Construction Jobs
77 Direct
37 Indirect/Induced
Financing Complete
May 2009

NEXT Innovation Center

Greenville, SC

The Project

Competing in the world market for talent, technology, capital and jobs, the Upstate’s economic transition hinges on the ability to bridge its deep roots in manufacturing with an entrepreneurial environment that can generate new ideas, technologies, products and processes. Formed by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce in 2006, the NEXT Initiative is an economic development program dedicated to transforming the area’s economy by attracting and promoting the growth of start-up knowledge-based businesses. Starting with 5 member companies, the NEXT Initiative has grown into a thriving 64-company technology team.

The Initiative’s home base is the 60,000-square-foot NEXT Innovation Center. The inspiration for the project was discovered during an inter-community visit to Dublin, the digital hub of Ireland. During the trip the team recognized that the most basic requirement for high growth entrepreneurial companies is quality office and research space in an atmosphere conducive to recruitment and collaboration. Upon return the City connected the NEXT entrepreneurs to the project developer to renovate an existing dilapidated building with office suites up to 15,000 square feet in size, single rental cubes, single rental enclosed offices, conference rooms and collaboration rooms.

The project was designed to accommodate growth, offer below-market rent to start-up companies, provide diverse suite types and sizes and offer ready access to technology, investors and advisors. Tenants in this space are all either locally-owned small businesses or local nonprofits that support economic development, such as Michelin Development Upstate (MDU). Capitalized by Michelin with $1 million, MDU provides funding and business expertise to socially and economically disadvantaged small- and medium-sized businesses (up to 500 employees). The MDU program is designed to help create jobs with funding and free-of-charge access to Michelin’s considerable in-house expertise. The free-of-charge access to advice includes areas such as health & safety, recruitment, marketing and sales training and productivity improvement.

Community Impact

As the “first-in” office space built in this LIC, the NEXT Innovation Center has been a tremendous success, generating high-impact jobs that pay 126% higher than the LIC per capita income and 238% higher than the county’s living wage. In 2011, a survey of NEXT member companies measured its direct impacts and determined that NEXT activity has created an additional 674 direct jobs in other Upstate facilities. Additional outcomes include:

  • 45 “touches per month” were made to locally-owned small businesses through its Concierge Service.
  • Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN), a group of 70 accredited local investors who, since inception, have invested more than $5.6 million in 22 local, start-up, high-growth companies was incubated.
  • Intern Greenville, founded in April 2011, provided for hundreds of high school applicants to meet face to face with NEXT member CEOs. In addition to gaining valuable experience, NEXT member interns could potentially gain an edge in an increasingly competitive job market and be hired for full-time employment after graduation. One of Intern Greenville’s long-term objectives is to help reverse the “brain drain” by keeping more graduates and higher-paying knowledge-based jobs in the area. The program received a staggering 300 applicants just within its first 6 weeks.
  • In May 2012 the Iron Yard hosted The Next Big Thing startup accelerator, bringing together diverse talent for an intensive 13-week program, providing innovation, education, mentorship and capital to kick-start fledgling software companies. Participants made rapid progress by identifying their weaknesses and planning their next move. For example, small business start-up No Chains focused on building awareness and, after ramping up its PR campaign, received immediate coverage from The New York Times, CNN Money and Fortune, based on introductions from a
    NEXT mentor.
  • In November 2011 NEXT received an Excellence in Economic Development Award – Honorable Mention for Technology-Based Economic Development, making it 1 of only 4 programs recognized worldwide by the International Economic Development Council and the 1st award of its kind for Upstate South Carolina.

“This unique project is designed to assist entrepreneurial growth, which is key to a bright economic future in South Carolina. No building like this exists anywhere that we know of, and there is no way it could have been financed by a developer or afforded by the NEXT members without GNMO’s new market tax credits. Acceptance has been overwhelming.”

– Robert E. Hughes, Jr., President, Hughes Development Corporation

Since 2006 taxadvantagegroup has managed its affiliated $89 million Greenville New Markets Opportunity, LLC (GNMO) NMTC fund, which provides investment capital for real estate development projects in low-income areas throughout Greenville, South Carolina.

For more information contact:

Tammy C. Propst | 864.271.2737 | tpropst@taxadvantagegroup.com