OUR VISION

Create a vibrant entrepreneurial business climate within the region through economic development emphasizing organic, sustainable growth. Enhance the economic vitality, diversity, and dynamism of the region.

HISTORY

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation (DRCI) was established in mid 2012 as a 501(c)(3). The corporation's mission was to function as a business incubator to grow Bluffton's and the surrounding regions economic base by helping innovative start-up or early stage companies. The organization incubated 29 companies and expanded into partnerships with Beaufort County Schools, USCB, TCL, SCAD and the City of Beaufort to promote and support innovation and entrepreneurship for the purposes of economic development.

The Bluffton Public Development Corporation (BPDC) was the Town's 501(c)(3) established in late 2012 by town leaders to pursue economic development within the Town. The corporation's mission was to accept, buy, sell, develop, mortgage, and transfer real and personal property including development rights. Its two other objectives were to assist in the town's economic development and undertake activities designed to promote and support the May River and other watershed cleanup efforts of the town. The corporation was an arm of the Town and was formed because by law, a municipality cannot execute specific financial transactions.

THE PRESENT

Both organizations matured and evolved to reflect the needs of the Town and the region.

Since both worked in the realm of economic development Town Council authorized the merger of these entities by adoption of a resolution on December 13, 2016 into a single entity know as the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, Inc.

This new entity fosters and promote economic development in six general areas:

  1. Business Incubation

  2. Co-working offerings (The HUB)

  3. Education & Outreach

  4. Business Attraction, Expansion & Retention

  5. Workforce Development

  6. Business Startup/Concierge Services

WHO WAS DON RYAN?

Don Ryan, co-founded CareCore National (now eviCore healthcare) in 1994, and under his leadership it became one of the leading specialty benefits management companies. After bringing the company to Bluffton, Ryan became involved in the efforts to recruit similar companies to the area. Don donated the existing space to the Center which is now named in his honor.

LEADERSHIP

Mike Levine

Chief Executive Officer

Proven entrepreneur and business builder that is target-driven as President/CEO who has over 25 years of Executive Leadership, Marketing, Business Development and Direct & Channel Sales experience in the software industry. Disciplined leader that has made step change in the EBITDA within the Enterprise, Mid-Market and SMB market segments. During President/CEO tenure, I owned the value creation and managed successful M&A activity with public, owner/founder and Private Equity firms.

A diverse background with a variety of "Information Technology" company cultures ranging from Owner/Founder to PE growth capital to Fortune 500 publicly held corporations. Throughout my career I has been an over-achiever, self-starter and dynamic leader with a proven track record of success building high performing, customer-centric and metrics driven teams. I have successfully launched organizations from startup and re-engineered existing sales and marketing forces yielding higher productivity, efficiency and results while consistently surpassing revenue and EBITDA goals.

Directly managed R&D and Finance functions and have built and managed global sales and professional services organizations with annual revenues exceeding $100 Million and provided significant EBITDA returns to shareholders.

Jessica Sferlazzo

Marketing and Operations Manager

Jessica Sferlazzo joined the Don Ryan Center in May 2019. She brings over 10 years of experience in developing, launching and leading retail sales operations. This included management of multiple units at both the regional and national level. Jessica’s strengths include event planning, marketing and branding. At Spartina 449, a Bluffton headquartered company, she was responsible for opening the 1st retail store location and subsequently opened and managed an additional 7 retail stores throughout the Lowcountry and Southeast.

Originally from New Jersey but always wanting to head South, Jessica followed the advice of her high school tennis coach and attended East Carolina University where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Merchandising with a double concentration in Apparel and Interior Design. After graduation she decided to make Bluffton her home and has resided here for over 10 years. In her spare time she enjoys spending every weekend she can on the May River with her husband Anthony and their Boston Terrier, Maverick.

Lauren Brooks

Marketing and Operations Assistant

Lauren Brooks joined the Don Ryan Center in December 2019. She brings over 10 years of experience in design and marketing. Lauren’s talents include brand management, creative thinking, graphic and web design, as well as user experience and user interface design.

Lauren is originally from the Lake Lanier area of Cumming, GA, but has called Bluffton and Hilton Head her home for over 16 years. She is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who went on to obtain her degree in graphic design, complete an accelerated online boot camp for user experience and user interface design, and is currently enrolled in college for Busines Marketing. She has worked in marketing and design roles for companies such as Whole Foods Market and Palmera Vacation Club. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband Chas and their three teenage boys.

© Don Ryan Center for Innovation/Website by Hazel Digital Media