The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Innovista: Throwing Good Money After Bad

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A recent article in The Nerve  reveals that the S.C. Joint Bond Review Committee has authorized another $4.1 million in taxpayer dollars to prop up Innovista, a ghost town of office space in downtown Columbia. The request will be taken up for final approval when the Budget & Control Board meets later this week on Thursday.

On top of that, Innovista may also be one of the special interests benefitting from a proposed new tax credit (H 4778) for developers of incubator buildings for start-ups. You can track the progress of such legislation on South Carolina Votes.

Innovista is the University of South Carolina’s 500-acre research campus, rolled out in 2005. It was going to be a surefire driving force for the area’s economy. Five years and more than $140 million later, it is mostly unoccupied, and has failed to attract the private sector investment upon which the project was sold to taxpayers.

Innovista was billed as a center for research and technology—the government’s attempt to artificially create a technology “cluster” in the state capital. Unfortunately, but predictably, building office space and dubbing it a “research campus” doesn’t mean private sector tech companies are going to flock to Innovista. State governments have previously used cluster theory to rationalize taxpayer funded incentives for a variety of questionable technologies, such as hydrogen-fuel vehicles.

But the empty offices of Innovista offer stark testimony to the fact that industry clusters, like Silicon Valley in California, arise organically, not because lawmakers want them to.


Written by Robert Appel

June 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm

One Response

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  1. […] and the blind, while using the money to fund wasteful and ineffective programs, like hydrogen and Innovista. […]

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