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Celebrating entrepreneurship this, and every, week.

Happy New Year, Black History Month and National EShip Week!

This month we're celebrating the important accomplishments and contributions Black Americans have made to our history, to our society, to our communities, and to our economy. Please join us to celebrate at the events and programs, listed in the right rail. 

National EShip Week, which is taking place February 13-20, is a congressionally chartered celebration among a rich network of partners that engage, educate, and build equitable access to America's Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. Check out National EShip Week and events taking place through February 20 >>>

One of the things I'm most proud of on our McNair Institute team is how we plan and perform like a startup. We've recently revisited Gino Wickman's best-seller Traction to engineer our new three-year strategic plan, redesign our metrics dashboard, and even advance the agenda for our weekly scrums. As a team we're clear on the most important rocks and we're accountable to each other - and to our mission and vision.

We're pleased to share these Q121 headlines:

Top four emerging entrepreneurship centers

The United States Association for Entrepreneurship and Small Business recently named the UofSC McNair Institute among the top four Model Emerging Program for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education in the country. Our humble thanks to you for your involvement and support over these past four years.

Connecting students to SC-based startups

We're equally honored to be a second time grant recipient from the South Carolina Department of Commerce Office of Innovation Relentless Challenge. This year we will strengthen students' connections to startups through internship, part-time and full-time career opportunities, working collaboratively across UofSC and with the SC Business Incubators Association and GrowCo

$17,500+ in prizes for UofSC Proving Ground Competition

The Faber Entrepreneurship Center at the UofSC Moore School of Business opened its signature student competition this week, offering an exciting $17,500 first place prize. Entries are due March 15 and a live virtual finale will take place April 22. Students, get started today at >>>

Will you be number 1,000?

UofSC's StartupWind virtual entrepreneurship support platform is rapidly approaching 1,000 community members! This free service is available for students, faculty, staff, alumni, partners and community members to develop concepts and business plans, while connecting with our talented bench of more than 100 mentors and advisors. Contact Katherine Swartz Hilton or Bre Spaulding to book an onboarding session and go for our 1,000-user prize. 

Welcome Breanna Spaulding, Community Manager!

We're excited to welcome Breanna "Bre" Spaulding, M.S., as our new community manager. Bre brings a wealth of experience directing projects and campaigns in the community, and will be actively working on the StartupWind platform and the SC Commerce grant project. Connect with Bre >>>

Inspire others with your entrepreneurship story

Each of us has a unique journey to share as an entrepreneur. We want to hear from you - and to share your story with our growing ecosystem of more than 2,500 students, prospective students, alumni, faculty, staff and community partners. Book a virtual interview with Katherine Swartz Hilton >>>

We look forward to staying connected with you and supporting you and your organization in any way we can.


McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina
Dirk Brown, Faculty Director
Kristina Hooks, Assistant Director, Partnerships and Events
Katherine Swartz Hilton, Director, Strategic Initiatives
Coy Gibson, Business Manager, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Living Learning Community
Breanna Spaulding, Community Manager
Office: 803.777.1717

Celebrate Black History Month

February 23: University of Louisville Center for Free Enterprise Webinar "The Black Wall Street Race Massacre, 100 Years Later: What Have We Learned?"

February 25: UofSC Celebrates "Trailblazers: Black Women in Leadership"

February 25: Grow with Google and US Black Chambers, Inc. 2021 Black Small Business Meetup (Virtual)

February 26: Black Enterprise Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit

Let's advance Eship in South Carolina this week:

Build your concept or business plan on StartupWind >>>

Raise your hand to become an advisor to UofSC student- and alumni-driven startups >>>

Drafting your pitch for The Proving Ground Competition >>>

Share your entrepreneurship story and advice with fellow founders and innovators >>>

Follow and connect with Scribble, South Carolina's innovation hub >>>

Nominate an innovator for Scribble's Season 3 video and Podcast Series >>>

Access the 2021 Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report to see how the Columbia area is performing in innovative capacity, entrepreneurial and business climate, talent and livability >>>

Check out USASBE's rich menu of programs and services for entrepreneurship educators and resource providers >>>

On Our Calendar

Wednesdays: 1 Million Cups Columbia (virtual + access past pitches)

February - May 15: Schedule a virtual appointment with Kevin Williams, Richland Library's Entrepreneur in Residence

February 25: Richland County Office of Small Business Opportunities "Let's Talk Procurement" Webinar (plus, access event archives!)

March 15-19: College of Charleston Center for Public Choice and Market Process Celebrates Adam Smith Week

Ecosystem Partners

City of Columbia Office of Business Opportunities

Entrepreneurship Club at UofSC

Faber Entrepreneurship Center at the Darla Moore School of Business


Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center

Richland County Office of Small Business Opportunity

Richland Library

South Carolina Department of Commerce Office of Innovation

South Carolina Department of Commerce Office of Supplier Outreach

South Carolina Research Authority

South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

Small Business Administration - SC District Office (SBA)

UofSC/Columbia Technology Incubator

UofSC Office of Economic Engagement

Women's Business Center of South Carolina at Columbia College


McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina | 803.777.1717 
Office of the Provost
1430 Senate Street, Suite 106
Columbia, SC 29208

Copyright © 2021 McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina, All rights reserved.