Tech Incubator Coming to Five Points This Fall

GrowCo Makes Permanent Home on Saluda Avenue with Donation from The Boyd Foundation!

7 mins read

(Columbia, SC) The Five Points Association is excited to announce the addition of a new tenant – The Boyd Foundation’s Community Innovation Center – Powered by GrowCo! They will be located at 711 Saluda Avenue in the former White Mule space. The space will be utilized as GrowCo’s headquarters and serve as a tech incubator for budding entrepreneurs.

“The Five Points Association is very excited to have this addition to our village,” states Katy Renfroe, Association Manager of the Five Points Association. “To have the full support of The Boyd Foundation and GrowCo by putting their stake down in Five Points is huge for our district. This just continues to prove that Five Points is and will remain a thriving business district for the next one hundred years.”

GrowCo is an entrepreneur-founded and led non-profit organization that has been in existence for over three years. Their charter is to serve every entrepreneur in support of their journey to create a high-growth company. Through connections, collaboration and targeted programming, they wish to significantly increase the number of high-growth entrepreneurs in the Midlands region.

Part of that programming will include the continuation of hosting 1MillionCups on Wednesday mornings along with other networking events, happy hours and three-day weekends – such as their popular Growth Summit – geared toward collaboration and community among entrepreneurs.

“One of the critical elements of a thriving startup community is an innovation space that focuses entirely on supporting founders,” states Chris Heivly, Board Member of GrowCo. “Great innovation spaces spawn creativity, connectivity, and collaboration among fellow founders. There was never any doubt, when we began organizing the startup community, that Five Points was our destination. Working with Richard Burts and many other supporters, we found our new home. We can’t wait to share it with you and the future founders in the region.”

Chris Heivly co-founded MapQuest, which sold to AOL for $1.2 billion, was sole managing director of 77 Capital – a $25 million venture fund – and has been an executive at five software companies. Currently, he is one of two managing directors of The Startup Factory, a seed investment fund making ten to fourteen new investments per year. A national writer and speaker about startups and startup communities, Heivly is also the founder of the Big Top Job Fair.

“For the last decade, I have used my skills and experience as an entrepreneur, mentor, advisor, investor, community builder, speaker, coach and consultant to develop founders, startups and entrepreneurial ecosystems across the globe,” says Heivly. “I have an innate ability to inspire people to act, simplify the complex, and enable all with an authentic and sometimes humorous delivery.”

The Boyd Foundation has donated $1 million to keep GrowCo funded for the next two years and allow them to focus their efforts on growing the tech incubator and finding more entrepreneurs in the Midlands to give them a place to “startup” and grow their business. GrowCo’s intent is to make Columbia a viable place for the tech industry and keep them local instead of relocating to other, larger cities in the Southeast and beyond.

The Boyd Foundation creates, supports, implements, and promotes outdoor recreational opportunities and facilities, the appreciation of wildlife, beautification of urban areas, educational programs and enhancing the quality of life of the citizens of Columbia and the Midlands at-large. These were and are the special interests of their founders Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd. The Foundation undertakes its own “signature” projects and is integrally involved in all aspects of the projects it underwrites, including project scope, design, contracting, bidding and construction oversight.

“Our founder, Darnall Boyd, made his living in this community, and the Foundation is a classic ‘give back’ organization,” says George Bailey, President/Director of The Boyd Foundation. “We want to improve the quality of life for everyone in Columbia – to make it a more attractive place to live and work. We think our investment in The Boyd Community Innovation Center will stimulate technology related economic development by giving technology entrepreneurs a place to develop and grow their businesses.”

The Boyd Foundation’s other current projects include the renovation of The Aquarium and Reptile Center at Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens, the Broad River Pedestrian Bridge, The Boyd Passage on the Palmetto Trail, the Greenhouse and Gatehouse at The Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, The Sanctuary at Boyd Island, The Taylor House renovation at the UofSC School of Law and The Boyd Living Shoreline Program.

“We are elated to have The Boyd Foundation’s Community Innovation Center – Powered by GrowCo located here and know that it will bring more people into our village to discover what makes Five Points so special. We can’t wait to see what new innovations will unfold with all of the entrepreneurial collaboration, creativity and networking that will commence come fall,” shares Renfroe.

For more information on The Boyd Foundation and their projects, please visit their website at or follow them on Instagram. For more information on GrowCo, please visit You can also follow them on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and YouTube.

The MinorityEye is a news and information aggregator that curates the voices, thoughts and perspectives of minority writers, bloggers, authors, reporters, columnists, pundits, consultants and thought leaders as well as those who write about minorities and issues that impact people and communities of color.

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