The State Budget and Control Board approved contracts Wednesday that could pave the way for IBM and Fluor to open information technology operations at a new office building coming to the University of South Carolina.
The board approved a lease between the school and Atlanta-based Holder Properties, which will construct the office building and apartments on campus in a private-public partnership. USC would collect a monthly fee and share in profits.
The board then approved allowing USC to bypass state procurement rules to negotiate a contract that would assist in landing an economic-development project that includes a Fortune 100 company.
The companies involved are IBM and Fluor, whose chief executive, David Seaton, heads USC’s $1 billion fundraising campaign, The State has learned. More companies might join.
South Carolina is not giving economic incentives to the project since the project involves consolidating work at first, state commerce secretary Bobby Hitt told the budget board. But the work and employment might grow to qualify for perks, he said.
The project is expected to employ 50 at first and grow to 500 within a few years, The State learned. Companies involved in what is call Project Sunset would take up a good portion of the five story, 120,000-square-foot office building at the corner of Assembly and Blossom streets.
House Ways and Means chairman Brian White, an Anderson Republican who has questioned the state’s responsibilities after the Holder lease ends, and Republican State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, who called details thin, voted against the one-time exclusive contract.
Holder must open the $25 million office building by summer 2017 in USC's Innovista Research campus. The $144 million research campus, meant to marry university faculty work with businesses, has fallen short of expectations since being announced nearly a decade ago because of the poor economy and troubled leadership.
IBM has been linked to Innovista since its inception. Fluor, based in Irving, Texas, has three offices in Greenville, a legacy of buying the Daniel International Corp., which was founded in the Upstate city.
S.C. Commerce Department and USC officials have declined to discuss project specifics.
In the office building, USC will receive $72,600 a year in rent from the office building as well as 15 percent of its profit. The school has the right to rent a third of the office space in the building.
Holder also is building a $94.6 million, 872-bed apartment complex slated to go behind the Carolina Coliseum. The complex will open in phases in 2015 and 2016.