Progress Energy is directing $650,000 from its state income tax bill for South Carolina into the SC Launch! fund.

SC Launch is a state-support partnership designed to boost entrepreneurship across South Carolina. The state allows taxpayers to designate up to $4 million of their tax proceeds to be placed in the fund.

The Progress Energy allocation is the largest to date under the Industry Partners Act program, which was passed by the state legislature in 2006.

“We are committed to promoting economic development in South Carolina and to supporting the future of our state’s knowledge economy,” said Emerson Gower, Progress Energy‘s Southern Region vice president. “This initiative provides opportunities for entrepreneurial development throughout the Pee Dee and in all of South Carolina.”

SC Launch! can invest up to $200,000 in startup companies and providing matching grants up to $100,000 for firms that receive federal research grants.

Members of SC Launch! include Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina. SC Launch! hopes to raise $8 million through the designated tax fund in 2008.