JaKayla Cornish

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — The Gravity Center opened the doors to its new building Sept. 9, as co-founder Doug Meyer-Cuno, surrounded by his fellow board members, cut the ribbon to the new facility located in downtown Rock Hill.

Before the building was constructed, the Gravity Center was a virtual space where entrepreneurs could subscribe and gain access to resources, receive coaching and be mentored by other entrepreneurs.  

The company was founded earlier this year by 10 business leaders who are all members of the board. 

“If we are creating something for entrepreneurs, it needs to be created and run by entrepreneurs. We totally understand the needs and one of those needs is to not have to run around the city looking for resources,” said Dawn Johnson, a Gravity Center board member. 

The 10 board members also work as representatives of organizations such as the City of Rock Hill, the Black Economic Leadership League and Winthrop University.

Hannah Horne, the group’s new executive officer, said the Gravity Center plans to use its connections to foster successful entrepreneurship in Rock Hill. 

“There certainly are opportunities within government, education, financial institutions and the legal policy regulatory environment for small business to grow. There isn’t a single organization that we don’t need to be in partnership with to make sure that we can make this the best small business community we can,” Horne said.

She said the Gravity Center prides itself on being a hub for entrepreneurial resources, and now, with a physical building, business leaders can facilitate the person-to-person interaction they need.

New Gravity Center Facility
The Gravity Center opened the doors to its new building Sept. 9 where entrepreneurs gain access to resources, receive coaching and be mentored by other business leaders (photo: JaKayla Cornish).

The new building, located at 153 S. Oakland Ave., consists of three levels, with each level having office, desk and classroom space available to rent.

Business owners who choose to rent a space will have 24/7 access to their work area, lounge and dining spaces and internet access.

“They may start here with their co-work space or maybe just a desk; maybe just as a subscriber to get the resources and information that they need. We want this to be the training ground where they get launched into mainstream society, maybe having a brick and mortar where they can be successful,” said Johnson.

She said having a physical space will help entrepreneurs to have efficiency, professionalism and stability as an official business.

Board member Ryan Sanderson said the Gravity Center faced some challenges to make the facility a reality, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even though it was more difficult in some ways to get the concept off the ground, it became that much more important that we did, to show start-ups and this entrepreneurship community that there were resources available and there was a community to support them,” Sanderson said.

“What we saw during COVID was small business owners now had their businesses put at risk. They were on an island even more to themselves and it was that much more stressful.”

Currently, the Gravity Center offers free programs such as the Venture Mentoring Service and the York County Launchpad, which helps foster a community around the entrepreneurs who are participating in the programs.

Sanderson says having these programs speaks to the purpose of the Gravity Center, which is to help entrepreneurs find and navigate these resources while also helping their businesses to grow.