The new director of USC Upstate’s business incubator hopes to expand the number of businesses operating in the space, and the impact those businesses have on the community.
Brian Brady, a former professor at the University of Connecticut School of Business, took over the GreenHouse on Aug. 16. The incubator sits on the top floor of the George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics in downtown Spartanburg.
“That’s one of my goals — to get students more involved. I want to recruit companies to the GreenHouse and offer them reasonable space and resources to help their businesses grow,” Brady said. “I want to support entrepreneurship and develop stronger ties with the Spartanburg entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Brady hit the ground running when he took over the GreenHouse. He said a student entrepreneurship showcase is tentatively planned for Oct. 11. The event will be a chance for students to see what the GreenHouse has to offer, and to meet with USC Upstate graduates who have gone on to find success in business and entrepreneurship.
A handful of companies currently operate in the GreenHouse, including Alta Gracia, a college and university apparel company, and software company Resiliency Technologies.
The STUDIO, a student-run design firm for the businesses located in the GreenHouse, also is located in the spacious area atop The George.
Laura Chadwell, a University of South Carolina Upstate junior, is one of the students who works at The STUDIO.
She said the GreenHouse space allows for creativity and comfort while working.
“It’s a really good opportunity,” she said. “I like the space, and everything has been going well here so far.”
The space itself is open, with some cubicles and meeting desks set up. Beyond the working area are seating spaces with chairs and couches, smaller tables and several cubicles with glass walls near the center of the building.
One of the GreenHouse’s success stories in the Hub City Co-Op, which started its operations inside The George before moving to its own building.
“That (the co-op) started upstairs as a concept,” Brady said. “And now, it’s a flourishing business. It’s a co-operative, but you walk in, and it’s just like Whole Foods.”
Donnie Hodge, owner and CEO of Alta Gracia, said he hopes operating out of the GreenHouse helps his business achieve a similar level of success.
A college and university apparel company located inside a college building is a perfect fit, Hodge said.
“First of all, our primary business is collegiate; how cool is it that we’re set up as part of the business school,” Hodge said. “You have no idea how lucky this school is to have this business incubator.”
During his tenure, Brady hopes to recruit more companies to the GreenHouse, and expand the role it plays for students with entrepreneurial goals.
He said the space and resources the space has because of The George’s visibility downtown can be a huge asset to students looking to find success in the business world.
“Part of the companies having space here, part of the collaboration, is allowing students to get involved up here, whether it’s through student internships or whatever, to help them get experience and learning about entrepreneurship,” Brady said. “We expose students to the opportunities and resources we have here. I think this is important — entrepreneurship and having entrepreneurial skills applies to all phases of business. Having the entrepreneurship background is tremendously helpful.”
Follow Zach Fox on Twitter @ZachFoxSH