Start-Up Hartsville competition returns to boost downtown entrepreneurship

Last spring, the Start-Up Hartsville competition offered a pivotal opportunity to two winning startup businesses prepared to open in downtown Hartsville — $12,000 each in incentives. Now, as the winning businesses, which are the handmade accessory boutique Seersuckergypsy and the refurbished furniture shop/wine bar Retrofit sip-n-seat, are opening, the Start-Up Hartsville competition is gearing up to restart the process for more entrepreneurs.

A project of downtown development organization Main Street Hartsville as well as the Duke Energy Center for Innovation, the competition will accept applications Oct. 12 through Dec. 7. This round will offer the same prizes as before to eligible applicants, a group which include new startups, franchises, relocations of existing businesses from elsewhere, and even businesses already operating in Hartsville which are ready to make a substantial expansion into a new business concept. The $12,000 prize takes the form of rental assistance for business locations and is made possible by the Community Foundation for a Better Hartsville. Additional in-kind benefits available to winning businesses include ongoing assistance with marketing and business structure planning. A $1,000 People’s Choice Award will also go toward the finalist business, which wins the most votes during the public presentation ceremony in February 2016. When the previous round of finalists presented their concepts last May, audience voters gave the People’s Choice Award to Brian Forté and Wanda Forté for MezzoForté Restaurant, a restaurant concept incorporating live performances and dinner theater.

“With a steady roll of ribbon cuttings and business announcements, downtown Hartsville’s development has reached new heights of excitement recently, and Start-Up Hartsville will remain a big part of that,” Main Street Hartsville Executive Director Suzy Moyd said. “We saw extraordinary business plans come out of the first round, showing off inventive products as well as well-defined marketing plans and target consumers, and we know the Hartsville community will demonstrate more of its business development potential this time as well.”

Applications for Start-Up Hartsville are available on Main Street Hartsville website,, and will be due no later than Dec. 7. The selection committee will pick six semifinalists to develop more detailed business plans, to be announced Dec. 14. A group of three finalists, announced Jan. 25, 2016, will then make presentations to the committee before two winners are announced on Feb. 29, 2016. The deadline for the winning businesses to have open their doors will be July 18, 2016.

For more information about the process, contact Suzy Moyd at 843-383-3015 or at

About Main Street Hartsville
The Main Street Hartsville program, a partnership of the City of Hartsville, Community Foundation for a Better Hartsville and Main Street South Carolina was established in 2013, and seeks to build a vibrant downtown in Hartsville, focusing on thriving businesses, community and historic preservation. Learn more about the organization at

About the Duke Energy Center for Innovation
The Duke Energy Center for Innovation provides a free service to the community by providing support for new company formation, particularly in the area of emerging technologies. DECI links innovators to business development resources and seed financing, and provides support services through Clemson University’s Regional Entrepreneurship Center. DECI is partnered with organizations including Clemson University, the Community Foundation for a Better Hartsville, the Duke Energy Foundation, the Byerly Foundation, the S.C. Department of Commerce and the City of Hartsville.

Author: Jana Pye

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