Resource roundup

The Lowcountry’s best business-building resources

By Hannah Massen & Lucy Rosen

There is no shortage of organizations and opportunities to start, launch and grow your business through networking, educational programs, one-on-one mentoring and more – and this doesn’t even include the specialty organizations and associations such as The Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association, Low Country Wedding Professionals, Low Country Human Resource Association and dozens more. We like to say “You gotta get out in order to get in.” These groups listed below will absolutely help you “get in.”


Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

As a 5-star accredited chamber of commerce with over 1,400 members, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce offers a variety of business-building resources that can boost your bottom line. From its website and social media reach to referrals and ribbon-cutting ceremonies, the chamber offers members plenty of opportunities for enhanced business exposure. The chamber also hosts over 80 events each year that are designed to facilitate learning and networking.

ONGOING EVENTS

  • Conversations + Cocktails: A monthly networking event open to both members and non-members. Attendees claim that they’ve never left this event without at least one new contact. 
  • Executive Connection: An exclusive, quarterly opportunity for business owners and senior leaders to connect. Free for all participants.
  • Coffee and Counsel: A variety of topics are covered at this monthly learning event, from developing your social media presence to maximizing your cash flow. Free for all participants.
  • Hilton Head/Bluffton Leadership Program: This prestigious leadership program has been developing leaders in the Lowcountry for the past 25 years. There is an annual fee to participate, but scholarships are available.

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

  • Business Education Partnership Committee: Perfect for those with a passion for connecting our current business community to up-and-coming professionals. 
  • Apprenticeship SC: A partnership program designed to build your workforce and train your existing staff as well as youth in our community. 
  • Public Policy Committee: Take a deep dive into legislation at the local, state and federal level impacting business in the Lowcountry.
  • Bluffton Regional Business Council: Join a group of Bluffton business leaders who meet monthly to discuss issues that impact the Bluffton business community.
  • The Chamber Young Professionals Program: Provides opportunities for businesspeople under 40 to build connections, make an impact in our Lowcountry community, and participate in opportunities for professional growth.
  • Become a SCORE Mentor: See SCORE information.

RESOURCE ROUNDUP

  • Networking events 
  • In-person and virtual learning opportunities
  • Mentorship (through SCORE)
  • Event sponsorship opportunities
  • Young professionals group 
  • Ribbon-cutting ceremonies

Learn more: hiltonheadchamber.org


SCORE SC

The Lowcountry is home to an award-winning chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. SCORE provides free and confidential mentoring services to businesspeople in all stages of their professional development journeys, but the many of its clients are business owners who are in their first year of operation. The mentors, who volunteer their time and expertise, work together to provide each client with individualized advice and feedback. All SCORE volunteers receive specialized training offered by the association and are certified in mentoring methodology. Each client is assigned a “lead mentor” who may contact other in-chapter mentors or one of the over 10,000 volunteers (including mentors, subject matter experts, workshop presenters, volunteers) if more than one opinion is needed. SCORE offers various virtual workshops throughout the year, which are recorded for future reference. SCORE is a US Small Business Administration resource partner.

ONGOING EVENTS

  • Online workshops: SCORE offers dozens of virtual learning seminars and workshops throughout the year. Visit www.sclowcountry.score.org for an updated list of events. 
  • SCORE counseling: For those who want to start a business or grow an existing one, SCORE offers free one-on-one mentorship by seasoned professionals in a variety of fields.

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

  • Become a Mentor: Do you have years of business experience you’d be willing to share? SCORE is looking to grow its network of Lowcountry mentors. Visit www.sclowcountry.score.org/volunteer for application details. 
  • Lead a Workshop: Whether you have a passion for graphic design or have been in the finance industry for 50 years, there’s an audience for your SCORE workshop. 
  • Community Outreach: Build meaningful relationships with other organizations in your community that support small businesses and attract potential SCORE mentors and volunteers. 
  • Marketing support: Develop marketing plans for the Lowcountry’s SCORE chapter and provide support with content development, website maintenance, social media, email marketing, or other marketing functions.

RESOURCE ROUNDUP

  • Mentorship 
  • Networking events 
  • Virtual learning opportunities 
  • Professional development and leadership seminars 

Learn more: sclowcountry.score.org


Greater Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Bluffton Chamber of Commerce is one of the fastest-growing chambers in the country, probably because Bluffton is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. Its list of members is constantly growing, giving you more opportunities to connect with fellow business people in the Bluffton area. Grow your contacts list at one of the chamber’s monthly business socials, become a chamber ambassador, meet other new entrepreneurs through the Young Professionals Program, or announce your business’ grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

ONGOING EVENTS

  • Monthly Business Socials: Network with other Bluffton professionals at the chamber’s monthly Coffee+Connection and Business After Hours mixers. 
  • Webinars and Lunch & Learns: The Bluffton Chamber partners with its members, local leaders and business professionals to host quarterly lunch & learns and webinars. Visit www.blufftonchamberofcommerce.org/events for an updated list of events. 
  • Taste of Bluffton: Sample local cuisine offered by area caterers and restaurants. 
  • The Golden Oyster Awards: Celebrate and recognize local businesses and their accomplishments by supporting the chamber’s annual Bluffton Business Awards.

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

  • Chamber Ambassadors: Ambassadors are the ”arms and legs” of the chamber’s activity in the community. They develop a broad professional network through interacting with local businesses, engaging with members, being involved with local events, and ”plugging people in” to helpful resources and available opportunities. 
  • Young Professionals: The Bluffton Chamber Young Professionals program aims to help young, local businesspeople strengthen their networks and develop their personal and professional skill sets. 
  • Chamber Leadership (Boards and Committees): The Greater Bluffton Chamber of Commerce is a member lead and directed organization. As a chamber member, you can help guide the chamber and strengthen the business community by participating or leading a committee. 

RESOURCE ROUNDUP

  • Networking events 
  • In-person and virtual learning opportunities
  • Mentorship (through SCORE and DRCI)
  • Young professionals’ group 
  • Ribbon cutting ceremonies and event promotion

Learn more: blufftonchamberofcommerce.org


Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce provides business growth and learning opportunities to help Beaufort regional businesses be more productive and profitable. The chamber also supports advocacy and community development initiatives to encourage a healthy business climate and community prosperity. Members are eligible to advertise in the chamber’s weekly eblast, and have increased visibility on the chamber’s business directory. They also can request a ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

ONGOING EVENTS

  • Business Socials: Get to know other local professionals at Coffee with Colleagues or Business After Hours, the Beaufort Chamber’s signature networking events. 
  • Military Appreciation Day: This annual event is the business community’s opportunity to show appreciation for the men and women in uniform at our region’s military installations and thank them for their service to our country and to our community. The event will be held on Veterans Day, November 11.
  • Workshops: The chamber hosts a variety of creative and professional development workshops throughout the year. Visit www.business.beaufortchamber.org/events for an updated list of events. 

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

  • Ambassador program: Chamber Ambassadors actively promote membership in the chamber, facilitate networking among members and encourage meaningful participation and involvement in Chamber programs. The Ambassadors meet monthly on the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. in the Chamber’s Conference Room. If you would like to join, applications are accepted at the end of the calendar year.

RESOURCE ROUNDUP

  • Networking events and ribbon-cutting ceremonies 
  • In-person and virtual learning opportunities
  • Young professionals’ partnership

Learn more: beaufortchamber.org


The Don Ryan Center for Innovation

The Don Ryan Center (DRCI) provides entrepreneurs with the resources, support, and guidance they need to start or grow their businesses. In addition to its START and GROWTH educational courses, the DRCI offers its members exclusive business-building resources, admission to in-person and virtual events, and one-on-one mentorship. The offices at the DRCI’s new coworking space, The Hub at Buckwalter, are now open for reservation. Visit www.donryancenter.com/the-hub for details and pricing. 

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

  • Become a member: The DRCI connects its members to the resources and services they need at every stage of their business development process. Visit www.donryancenter.com/membership to learn more. 
  • Become a mentor: The DRCI connects members to a network of mentors who have paved the way in their industries. Visit www.donryancenter.com/mentors to learn more. 
  • The STARTUP Program: The STARTUP Program is designed to help new entrepreneurs advance their early-stage startups and business ideas. They’ll help you navigate the early stages of the business development process, from initial planning to product development. 
  • The GROWTH Program: The GROWTH Program is designed to help established entrepreneurs raise revenue, break into new markets, or reach their next set of business goals. Participants will receive the guidance, resources, and knowledge they need to take their business to the next level of success.
  • The RESILIENCY Program: Have a quick question or just need a bit of advice? The DRCI offers resiliency mentoring to get you the help you need. 

RESOURCE ROUNDUP

  • Networking events 
  • In-person and virtual learning opportunities
  • Mentorship 
  • Professional development and leadership seminars 
  • Conference Room and Private/co-working space rentals 

Learn more: donryancenter.com

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