The South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) – a quasi-public “economic development” agency which just built a 78,000-square foot, state-of-the-art “Innovation Center” in Columbia, S.C. – could be on the verge of building a new office park in Charleston harbor.
For those of you unfamiliar with SCRA, the group’s philosophy consists of ripping off entrepreneurs and small businesses in South Carolina to supplement our state’s skyrocketing research university budgets – an ongoing scam which funds boondoggles like “Innovista.”
SCRA’s “corporate board” consists of the presidents of the state’s three “research universities,” as well as numerous other higher educrats, government officials and retired military officers. The agency is aggressively supported by S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell and Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt – two of the state’s most influential command economists.
The rumored SCRA facility would be located at Patriots Point – which, ironically, is home to yet another quasi-public entity that benefits from preferential government treatment (as well as taxpayer-funded bailouts).
Sad isn’t it? You literally can’t throw a rock in South Carolina without hitting some state-sponsored or government-subsidized entity that’s competing unfairly with the private sector.
Anyway, according to our sources, SCRA is being forced out of its current Lowcountry location near the Charleston, S.C. International Airport by Boeing – which is on the verge of opening a massive new manufacturing facility nearby.
Boeing wants to scrap the current SCRA building and erect a new structure that would enable it to paint its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft on-site rather than fly them to Texas for painting.
In March, Boeing selected subcontractor Leading Edge “to provide the final painting and livery applications for all 787’s being delivered from the company’s new 787 Final Assembly & Delivery facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.”
The company said that the work would be performed in Leading Edge’s Amarillo, Texas facility – which employs 200 workers.
Patriots Point is currently being investigated by S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis, who is looking into numerous allegations of fiscal mismanagement at the agency. Other groups are investigating whether Patriots Point attempted to improperly transfer conservation easements.
Ironically, Boeing is one of the envisaged “anchor tenants” of a proposed redevelopment of Patriots Point that was presented to the authority’s board in January. The ten-building development would include a museum, restaurants, gift shops, a hotel, a Boeing conference facility and a mall modeled after the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Sources familiar with SCRA’s plans say that the agency has no immediate plans to relocate. In the event they do move, however, Patriots Point is one of roughly a dozen locations that might be considered.