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The_sandlapper

Columbia - Unique urban research community

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The USC research campus.

It is supposed to be almost as large as USC's campus in land area. It is predicted to change the local economy of Columbia into a "knowledge based" one. I've been following this project in the paper for the last couple of years now.

I think this is an exellent oppourtunity for Columbia to take itself to the next level. The city definately needs a catalyst because it has all the right ingrediants to be succesful IMO anyway. Nay sayers will say why would companies want to come to Columbia, well in theory they'll come because of the Research Campus. However 20 years ago I'm sure they were saying the same thing about, Charlotte, Austin, and Raleigh? If this plays out right it's supposed to make feul cell development to Columbia what Houston is to oil. Once agian this is if everything goes according to plan. With other developments in similar in Aiken (Hydrogen Research Park), and Greenville's ICAR. Does South Carolina what it takes to become successful in this new "brian based" economy?

Columbia's metro today (approx. 700,000) is very similar in size to Austin (approx. 850,000) in 1990. Both cities have large research institutions located in or close to downtown, both are relatively liberal considering the states they are in, however from what I understand Austin is considerablly more liberal than Columbia but you get the idea, and of course both are state capitals.

Although USC and Columbia are not there yet both have come a long way in the past 10 years. USC has been aggressively pursuing top teir research status, the research campus and other developments are apart of these efforts. Columbia this year according to Forbes annual Best Metros list was ranked 28th nationally, behind Charlotte. Many of these who's who list have given places like Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, and Austin "national creditability", granted these list are not the gospel but they due help create national awareness for the selected cities. I still think this is very good for the city becaasuse 10 years ago Columbia would not have even appeared on such a list.

Forbes 2004 who's who

Here are a few article discussing the lates developments.

USC to roll out vision for research campus

For the first time publicly, USC on Tuesday will unveil its plan to create a research campus that the university believes will become an economic engine for South Carolina and its capital city.

The town meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The university is encouraging interested persons to attend and hear about plans for the research campus.

USC to roll out vision for research campus

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

University negotiating with up to 5, developer says during briefing

USC research campus plan piques companies

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Sandlapper I'm glad you posted this. The editorial page is right on about the 3 pillars of the Columbia economy. State government is facing lean times and despite what the article says there is real concern in high places that the State may lose some of the current base capacity under BRAC (Base Realignment and Closeure). Some bases may not be closed but downsized or merged. For example, there is talk the air wing at McEntire will be merged into Shaw. Every base in the state is on the table.

I'm all for the USC Research campus and hope to see more growth towards the River. USC provides an ernormous boost to the local economy. There will likely be resistance in the Legislature to paying for many capital projects. An all Republican crew there will be tough on agency growth in lean revenue times. Hopefully the public/private partnerships law will be changed so USC can enter those kinds of arrangements. Right now state-funded educational institutions cannot enter some agreements with the private sector. I believe the nature of those are contracts for long term financial commitments. USC, Clemson and MUSC have asked to be exempt from that oversight by the Commission on Higher Ed. I think they come up next session for that request. I am also hopeful the USC endowment which has done so well will also be allowed to invest in the building campaign.

I'll start a sub-topic here. Should the Carolina Coliseum be torn down? The land is valuable and located in such a prominent spot. The Colonial Center is now one of the top ten venues in the U.S. But do we need a spare coliseum?

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They are also promoting nanotechnology research in the research campus. I think the whole thing will be great. I agree with research man about the public-private money deal. They should onyl be required to have limited oversight. As a major recipient of state funds it should have some oversight.

I think that the Coliseum is a useless building. the Carolina Center can do anything that the Coliseum can do and more. I know that the Inferno use it, but surely a deal can be worked out for the other facility? I think that land coudl be better used. Divine could be reinstalled which would create another street face for a building or two on each block of the new research campus.

On another slighly more off topic note. I think taht fo aesthetic reasons, that holiday inn should be razed, or given an extreme facelift (like the clarion recently had). It is just a major eyesore. On a similar note- the Towers are going tobe torn down to make way for more of the research campus. Devine street could be restored here as well (even though I know it won't be). The removal of the Towers is good for aesthetics as well.

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Well I think there should be some freedom to build partnerships in lean budget times. But there should be a little oversight. USC has had a long history in the area of spending big money. If you have kids on campus, went to school there, are in related business sector or are a grad. you probably like the school and see what an economic boon it is. For each of those there's another person who thinks USC is full of egghead liberals who spend tax dollars without any concern to the taxpayer. They read the paper and see the highest salaries in state govt are at USC. They remember the USC taking land by imminent domain, lying to the press about salaries & donations (Jihan Sadat, Robbie Benson, the Koger Center) and what the press deemed an indifferent attitude towards the Columbia retail economy. They don't understand paying anyone a million bucks to coach a football team. And often their kids can't get into that state university which shuts them out with higher standards in the migration to a research institution. It would help if the tech. schools changed their name to joe-average-college and USC became big-research-university. But people think..hey I paid for it..and my kids grades are good enough..who stole my local state university?

I am hopeful the growth will occur. But we have a frugal governor who has publically recognized we cannot afford to grow the universities all over the state. And selling visions around the state house often doesn't work because the states representatives are mostly rural and they may like FMU or SCSU. As long as the money comes from the endowment it's a no brainer for USC and Cola town.

And yes..we should tear down the Colisuem. I love watching things get blown up. Anyone remember the Wade Hampton come down? Or the building next to the surpreme court?

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Well I'll be honest alot of that stuff you guys were talking about I didn't follow.

Are yall sayin that the "Research University of SC" is basically depending on how much the state govt. is willing to allow it too be? Is it all just politics? You guys have to forgive my ignorance this stuff really isn't my speacailty.

I have mixed feelings about the Coliseum. If they tear it down I'd like to see something else community oriented in it's place. I do know however by keeping it seems to serve only a place for the "Inferno" a place to officially call home.

But back to the Research Campus I'm really excitied about the idea because Columbia has always had the right ingredients to become successful, and granted I know it's no a gaurauntee, it's exciting because we are beginning to see change in the mentality. Columbia for too long has been content with letting the world pass by, and feeling like "well as long as were the biggest city in the state that's all that matters". That type of mentality has keep this city from reaching its full potential. I look at places like Raleigh, Charlotte, and Orlando, and any of the new "buzz" cities. I still don't see what's the big deal about moving to any of these places, I wouldn't rule them out but they would not be first on the list. Growing up I saw many of the "things" these cities had to offer right here in Columbia. I didn't have to experience the NFL type atmosphere when SEC sports is apart of downtown, we have an 85,000 seat stadium, 5 points has always been the place to go hang out on the weekends, we have 3 major US interstates intersecting the city, lake murray, etc.... Never understood why Columbia never beat it chest like its NC peers, but that's for another thread which I've been meaning to dicuss. Anyway, these cities at one time in the very recent past were about the same size of Columbia they just found there "nitch" and ran with it!

Any thought's?

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I was trying to say the University cannot just do what it wants.There are limits on it in some respects thru the Legislature or Commission on Higher Ed. USC has learned to develop through the USC Development Foundation to avoid some of the bad press they used to get. I wish I could remember when the development agency became well known...it's designed to let USC grow without some of the oversight required of the university. it was development of some kind. Maybe the Koger center?

There are politics in everything. The downtown hotels and the neighbors around USC were able to change the University's hotel plans for Pendleton Street. Kirkland and Black House buidings are now incorporated in the new hotel instead of being demolished. The university now has some kind of non-compete clause with the hotels in town, I believe it's to last for 30 years. Sorenson and Coble finally worked it out. But until Sorenson came the 2 opppsing sides created enough heat to block the development. For every great campus vision there will be a vision-less boob in the State house who can only think about property tax relief.

It's good to see USC work towards a large research school. In the past they would try to buy a reasearch program. They would find someone tops in their field and bring them to Columbia..and their graduate students and research dollars would follow.

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Hey..I was gonna post that!

It brings out some of my comments here. USC & Columbia citizens have a long and interesting relationship. I often feel I come across as a naysayer in this forum. But basically I've been around long enough to remember all the old politics and university initiatives.

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Never understood why Columbia never beat it chest like its NC peers, but that's for another thread which I've been meaning to dicuss. Anyway, these cities at one time in the very recent past were about the same size of Columbia they just found there "nitch" and ran with it!

It is true that Raleigh, Charlotte and Orlando were similiar in size to Columbia at one time (1940's, 1950's). Each of the cities did have a niche so to speak, but there is more to it than that.

North Carolina state government enacted laws which enabled much of the growth and maximized it.

One HUGE thing was that in 1959, the NC legislature greatly liberalized the annexation laws statewide. That's pretty amazing when you consider it was largely a rural state then. That allowed Charlotte's population to grow with the metro area. Columbia on the other hand is still stuck at it's 1960 population, more or less. While Columbia has grown from 100,00 to 125,000 in about 40 years time, Charlotte's population has grown from 200,000 in 1960 to well over 500,000 in 2000. That growing tax base allowed them to build the infrastructure they needed and to not have to rely as much on getting other governments on-board for major projects (ie county government).

The same thing can be said for Raleigh, but even more important for Raleigh was the establishment of the Research Triangle Park in the early '60's. The foresight of the NC state government paid huge dividends in later years.

As another example, the banking laws were changed in the 70's in NC that led to the expansion of that industry in that state. When the laws were changed to allow interstate banking, the NC banks (Wachovia, BofA) were well positioned to take advantage.

In short, the progressive and forward thinking of the NC government officials of the 50's, 60's and 70's paved the way for Charlotte and Raleigh to reach their full potential.

As for Orlando, I can't speak to that so much, but obviously the Mickey Mouse invasion is the reason it exploded.

Unless and until SC starts learning from the examples I listed, Columbia will continue to fall short of its full potential.

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^Interesting take! Never looked at it from that angle. But for years I could never understand why Columbia hadn't become what it should? I guess annexation laws have really set this state back? It's ashame too, because for SC Columbia is a fairly liberal/ free thinking town, but I guess that doesn't have anything to do with state govt.

Is it me or are favorites being played with the locations of these new factories in the state, first Greer/Spartanburg, and now 10-12 years later Charleston? Howcome the Midlands are always getting left out? Are we waiting for the Research Campus ship to come in? Or is it that somehow we don't have qualified people to work in these facilities which is hard to believe because we have such a large percentage of people who are educated in Richland County?

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^^ It is an oversimplification to say this, but consider this:

Project Site Governor Gov's Home County

BMW Greer Campbell Greenville

Jet plant Charleston Sanford Charleston

BMW was originally looking at Charleston, but later choose the upstate. Many in the Low Country blame Campbell for that, including Fritz Hollings. Sounds logical to me.

Columbia seldom has a candidate running for statewide office. When they do, they don't support them any more than they would anyway based on party affiliation. Coble may run for Governor in '06. If he does he would probably get his clock cleaned. He probably would not get significant support outside Columbia proper.

John Courson would be a great candidate for Governor, but he would have to wait unitil 2010. He did lose statewide in '94 too (comptroller), so he isn't without drawbacks.

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If that's the case Columbia may never get its share of the pie because the Midlands isn't known for having hardcore rightwing conservatives that seem to do so well outside the region.

But agian very interesting, never would have looked at it from that angle?

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^^ It is an oversimplification to say this, but consider this:

Project      Site            Governor    Gov's Home County

BMW            Greer          Campbell      Greenville

Jet plant      Charleston    Sanford        Charleston

BMW was originally looking at Charleston, but later choose the upstate.  Many in the Low Country blame Campbell for that, including Fritz Hollings.  Sounds logical to me.

Columbia seldom has a candidate running for statewide office.  When they do, they don't support them any more than they would anyway based on party affiliation.  Coble may run for Governor in '06.  If he does he would probably get his clock cleaned.  He probably would not get significant support outside Columbia proper. 

John Courson would be a great candidate for Governor, but he would have to wait unitil 2010.  He did lose statewide in '94 too (comptroller), so he isn't without drawbacks.

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To be fair, the site is on the Spartanburg County side of Greer.

Thats true about Coble. He really doesn't have the name recognition accross the state. His recent bid and then quick retraction from the senatarial campaign is a good example of this.

If that's the case Columbia may never get its share of the pie because the Midlands isn't known for having hardcore rightwing conservatives that seem to do so well outside the region.

But agian very interesting, never would have looked at it from that angle?

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Columbia/Richland County is a very diverse place politically. It leans towards a democratic majority, but not by too much.

I think that Columbia's diversity is one of its strenghts. The University and this research center can be a good help, and could easily be Columbia's BMW/Vought.

The Upstate is probably going to dominate state politics more than ever in the future (we have two US senators from the Upstate). But don't forget that Glenn McConnell is still the bigshot with all the pull in the State House, so its not all the Upstate.

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Mighty sneaky of Sanford putting the port of Charleston in his backyard. Those politicianswill do anything to steal an industrial prospect.

All jokes aside. In the late 80s and early 90s I did extensive work to help develop the SC Dept. of Commerce industrial recruitment system. Back then Commerce was the State Development Board. We collected many layers of data to allow companies to come into the state and play what if with the population and infrastructure. For example a company could request they be within an hours drive of an airport with daily flights to Europe, the need to be within a ten miles of an interstate, they will have infrastructure requirements; a 6 inch water line, x sewer discharge capacity. They will need a specific kind of labor pool (sometimes educated, sometimes highly uneducated). They may need additional education provided by the State throught the Tech. system. If the plant will create emiissions they may need to be more than 100 miles from Cape Romain or other preserves (like red Cockaded woodpeckers). Or if they ship in parts from Europe they may need to be close to Savannah or Charleston to have deep-water port access. In most cases the client is allowed to select where they want to go and they can play what if with sites..for example training employee expenses versus building a railroad spur. In most cases the prospect would end up with a list of sites each with different characteritics. Add in economic incentives and they could take the data home and plug into their spreadsheet to compare South Carolina with Alabama, etc. In SC most of the recruitment steers clients towards existing sites and infrastructure.

I believe Greer got BMW because of proximity to the junction of I85 and I26. Plus there's a skilled labor pool. Plus our competitiors did not offer enough per job. It's the same with the airline. I think Alabama determined they would pay too much per job when they realized only 600 were coming instead of 1000. As I recall only four other states competed. Likely the port was a deciding factor but we did not have much competition at the end. We will know soon. Commerce is to announce the particulars next week on what was offered in the negotiations.

Sometimes politicians do not benefit from landing a new plant. Gov. Folson lost his job when Alabama's residents thought they had spent too much for each job. Here in SC 800+ new companies have sprung up around BMW.

BTW, almost everyone I know has an axe to grind with Coble. He recently announced his concern on losing the next mayorial race. He's got a lot of baggage. Today's announcement the city may owe $4.3 million for the hotel that aint gonna be built will piss off a lot of people. Many are still angry he wanted to build a $75 million hotel with taxpayer guarantees.

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BTW, almost everyone I know has an axe to grind with Coble. He recently announced his concern on losing the next mayorial race.  He's got a lot of baggage. Today's announcement the city may owe $4.3 million for the hotel that aint gonna be built will piss off a lot of people. Many are still angry he wanted to build a $75 million hotel with taxpayer guarantees.

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I know I would be pissed with my mayor (if i had a mayor) and he decided to spend taxpayer money on an unnecessary and expensive hotel.

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So who will be Columbia's next fearless leader? What's Inez Tanenbaum up to these days? Coble probablly isn't the most popular right now but he did do alot to get the city up and moving, and not being content watching peer cities constantly move ahead.

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I just don't think that Inez would make a good city leader. I would be interested to know what everyone else thinks.

I think that Inez will make a run for governor in 08.

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I like Inez where she is right now. As an advocate for the state's education system. But i don't want her as my senator.

For the next mayor I'd suggest a successful local business person. Someone frugal minded but with vision. I like many of the characteristics of Sanford, smart, frugal and a deep thinker. I am biased in that I have a small business and a guy running for governor with only one tie .. you gotta love that. He does sometimes get lost in his do-it-my-way methods. Coble has many good qualities but I think he is a dirty politician sometimes. Kirk Finlay single handedly envisioned the Vista. Before him Gervais looked like Triangle City. I remember Coble taking lots of cheap shots against him in that campaign. On his watch some good has been done but lots of money blown.

Mayor Bob is very shrewd. He will likely win. That whole thing with flu shots I thought was for his benefit. You can bet most of us will come to believe he is South Carolina Humanitarian of the year before that next Election day.

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Some follow up to this thread. Ines has announced her third campaign for running the Dept. of Education. And today's State letters to the editor has two letters about USC and the people that run the campus. One is about how USC's new research school will make Columbia like a city up north, don't trust the admins that run it, etc.. What we discussed here recently.

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I noted they broke ground on the first research campus buildings today. I must say the artistic representations published in the State really are sharp.

Interestingly I was working at USC yesterday in a research group. I asked if the group would be moving to the new research buildings. They indicated they likely will be moved away from campus into the old Southern Bell builiding. That's at the corner of Hampton and Pickens. USC evidently has plans to move several groups there. Perhaps it's only the fuel cell/energy groups that will be moved to Assembly & Blossom first. The State indicated a contract with a specific development company was being pursued. The company has strong energy industry contacts and is a specialist in developing energy business clusters.

And another note in the paper mentioned Gov. Sanford is concerned about the habit of the state taking on more debt to finance building campaigns at the states colleges.

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For the next mayor I'd suggest a successful local business person. Someone frugal minded but with vision. I like many of the characteristics of Sanford, smart, frugal and a deep thinker. I am biased in that I have a small business and a guy running for governor with only one tie .. you gotta love that. He does sometimes get lost in his do-it-my-way methods. Coble has many good qualities but I think he is a dirty politician sometimes. Kirk Finlay single handedly envisioned the Vista. Before him Gervais looked like Triangle City. I remember Coble taking lots of cheap shots against him in that campaign.  On his watch some good has been done but lots of money blown.

Mayor Bob is very shrewd. He will likely win. That whole thing with flu shots I thought was for his benefit. You can bet  most of us will come to believe he is South Carolina Humanitarian of the year before that next Election day.

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Did Coble run against Finlay? Coble ran against Patton Adams to win the seat. That was about the time I moved to Cola. I think that was in '89 or '90 or there abouts. I must have missed the flu shot episode when I was out of state recently. What was that about?

I think Coble is very vulnerable. If he gets a credible opponent, he could, should, and probably would lose. He has been mayor for what 12 years or is it 16?

Whatever it's been, it's been too long. There have been a lot of scandals the last few years, but he has managed to avoid taking the fall for them. I think that is about to change.

Remember the fraudulent overtime fiasco, the period when they changed city managers every year or so, the Leona Plaugh incident, the hotel debacle, now the empowerment zone mess and the hotel lawsuit.

First Heizer, then Papadea, and soon Coble. That is, if anyone besides Joe Azar runs against him.

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And another note in the paper mentioned Gov. Sanford is concerned about the habit of the state taking on more debt to finance building campaigns at the states colleges.

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Maybe I'm paranoid but I really think there is bias toward the Columbia area.

So will this concern effect the Reasearch Campus, and if it does what about ICAR?

That's Clemson's baby, is state money going into developing that or is that all private? Or am I just generalizing and misunderstanding what's going on?

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I could be wrong, but I thin kthat ICAR is all private. I'm sure there are some state tax-breaks included in its package though. The thing is that its not all Clemson, its partners with BMW, NASCAR (I think), and a number of other large groups in the Upstate.

Sanford's strength and weakness is that he is extremely frugal. Cheap, if you will. He always watches out for the taxpayers' money. That is one of the main reason's I like him. However, sometimes that overpowers the ability to see what an investment can do to an area. Allowing alittle state debt could bring back more revenues in the future.

I can see a small bias towards Columbia, but I think its necessary for Columbis to survive. Each of the major cities has its main strength- Greenville is an industrial power house, Charleston has the Coast- beaches/tourism/ports, and Columbia has the state government, including USC, which is more of the "state's school," if you will, than Clemson. I'm not trying to knock Clemson down or anything, but it would seem to me that in order to help Columbia, helping out USC would be a very large part of that.

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