Who we are

Andrade Economics (ae) is an economic development practice focused on positioning communities for sustainable economic prosperity. We accomplish this by crafting fruitful public-private partnerships in support of high-wage tech and knowledge-based communities. ae helps clients identify the issues they seek to address, optimize their assets and provide them a comprehensive set of tools and professional services to succeed.

ae is based on the professional experience and proven track record of Ernest Andrade, a practitioner with over twenty years of experience serving the tech community in Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston's comprehensive approach to developing its high-wage, low-impact and diversified economy is due in large part to a practical, "no studies required" approach. The focus on quality over quantity and substance over marketing hype has catapulted Charleston to a diverse tech and creative hub.

Our tenets

  • Talent is the currency of the twenty first century

What we do

Economic development has traditionally focused on business recruitment - attracting companies from outside the local area to support their economic base. While this approach has been successful with regard to industrial development, communities are now scrambling to diversify their economies to compete in an environment where a focus on high-wage business formation, education and a sense of place are the most valuable, long-term assets.

Recognizing that approximately 80% of job creation occurs from within a community, ae helps clients canvass the region to identify and showcase their existing businesses and relevant resources. ae then implements a set of proven open source tools that allow communities to build their own, sustainable high-wage economy. Since companies considering locating to a community will ultimately be subject to the same business climate as those that are already there, this "take care of who you have" approach is attractive to businesses considering relocation to a community. Our core areas of business focus are:


Cheap land, financial incentives and low cost labor were the economic drivers for yesterday's economy. Progressive American cities seeking to diversify into an innovation economy, must recognize that skilled talent is the currency for the 21st century economy and is at the heart of high-wage job creation. ae is widely considered to be a leader in talent development strategy through the successful implementation of a CODEcamp - a code education initiative, company showcase platform and curated talent portal.


Facilities optimized to support tech/knowledge-based companies must  operate differently from traditional office buildings to be effective centers for job creation. Due to the flexibility built into the operating model, banks don't like financing them and the operators of many self-proclaimed innovation centers are just real estate investors. ae has several years of operating experience and financial data to demonstrate how to develop and manage facilities that are the job factories for the 21st century economy.

Community Engagement

Community is the most important pillar of a business strategy focused on developing a knowledge-based economy. The relationship between an organization tasked with developing a knowledge economy and relevant companies and professionals from within a community typically stimulates timely discussions, supports continued learning, and leads to the development of key initiatives. Community engagement should not be measured by the number of attendees, but rather the quality and passion of professionals engaged.  ae can demonstrate the value of implementing a community-driven business model.


Capital is highly opportunistic. While almost every community claims to be "start-up capital starved", the question is two fold: Is there a capital shortage of lack investment opportunities worthy of external capital? Recent changes at the federal and state level, including the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, along with crowdfunding platforms have eased restrictions on capital formation, making it easier to address this issue. ae sheds light on how companies are raising capital in spite of a tough lending environment and why the development of a local source is helpful with attracting entrepreneurs.

  • Community engagement is an essential component for success


Ernest Andrade

Ernest Andrade

Ernest Andrade is the principal of Andrade Economics and the founder and Executive Director of the Charleston Digital Corridor, a successful public-private business development partnership launched in February 2001 to attract, nurture and promote tech companies in Charleston, South Carolina.

Andrade brings a value and results-oriented mindset to his various professional endeavors. His accomplishments include positioning Charleston as a premier destination for tech companies by growing the Digital Corridor from 18 companies in 2001 to almost 700 companies today, launching a year-round CDCu education initiative, developing five tech-focused business incubators in Charleston and one in Beaufort, and developing practical and effective software products for use by other communities and business development agencies.

Prior to a focus on high-wage business development, Ernest was responsible for growing the city of Charleston from 38 to over 100 square miles, increasing Charleston's tax base by over $2.5 billion and 30,000 residents and executing a strategic plan to recruit competitive economic development projects with a capital investment of over $500 million.

Ernest was born in Kuwait and lived in Bangalore, India prior to emigrating to the United States in 1981. He became a naturalized citizen in 1996. He holds a BS in Business Administration from the College of Charleston and a Master of Public Administration from the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston.

  • Today, workspaces must inspire and stimulate creativity


These items reflect the news and insights that are part of building a successful knowledge ecosystem as well as the recognition by the media of the effort.