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.

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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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