In 2005, the Village of Bluffton sponsored a Visioning Study designed to gauge why residents appreciated living in Bluffton and how they would like to see the community develop. The results of the survey were overwhelming. Survey takers loved the small town lifestyle Bluffton offered and they wanted to see the village grow. However, there were legitimate concerns about the number of quality career opportunities available in the area for young people. Residents were also concerned about Bluffton’s relative dependence on the automotive industry since the town’s major employers include three automotive manufacturers.
Ropp Triplett, a long time Bluffton entrepreneur, and Richard McGarrity, a retired financial executive, began to generate interest in a business incubator – a network of local resources designed to encourage new entrepreneurs. Their efforts led to offers of support from various members of the community, and the Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs was finally incorporated in the summer of 2007.
In the fall of 2010, the center formed a strategic partnership with Bluffton University’s Division of Business Studies. The relationship reduces the organization’s operating costs and connects its clients with university faculty and students.
Create 300 new jobs in the next 10 years.
The mission of the Bluffton Center for Entrepreneurs (BCE) is to provide resources – financial, intellectual, and technological – in partnership with local educators and business leaders that will facilitate and nurture growth of new and developing enterprises. Moreover, the center will ultimately enhance the greater Bluffton area, not only through job growth, but also by being a visible and sustainable sponsor and promoter of innovation that will continuously attract new entrepreneurs to the area.