GREENVILLE — Clemson University took a major step toward bringing a business graduate and professional education center to downtown Greenville Friday.

The university board of trustees approved leasing 33,355 square feet of space at 55 East Camperdown Way in Greenville that will be home to the Master of Business Administration program, professional and continuing education, and resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The lease still must be approved by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, the Joint Bond Review Committee and the State Budget and Control Board, which are expected to consider the request in December.

Upon approval, Clemson’s College of Business and Behavioral Science will relocate and consolidate its full- and part-time MBA programs, the Renaissance Center, an office of the Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, regional offices for the Small Business Development Center and Professional Advancement and Continuing Education strategically under one roof, creating a dynamic synergy between students, faculty, business leaders, industry and the Upstate community.

Clemson President James F. Barker said the move will allow Clemson to better serve the Upstate business community.

“Our vision for the college is to support economic development and increase personal per capita income by providing one of the nation’s top MBA programs to enhance the marketability and income potential of students, provide professional development and continuing education for those already in the workplace, and better serve the needs of small business and entrepreneurs, which are among the leaders in job creation,” he said. “We’re following the successful land-grant model of economic development, which is to go where the business needs and the market are, not make them come to us.”

University officials are optimistic about state approval, noting that the move will require no additional state funds, new degree programs or curriculum changes and already has strong support from Greenville city and business leaders.

A $1 million gift from ScanSource Inc. will help the College of Business and Behavioral Science make the move. ScanSource Inc. is an international distributor of specialty technology products based in Greenville.

“As an international business headquartered in Greenville, we fully understand the need for continued economic development and the availability of high-caliber educational opportunities. These are critical to the growth of our community and facilitate the recruitment and development of a world-class work force for our company,” said Mike Baur, chief executive officer of ScanSource Inc.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Clemson University, having implemented a successful recruitment program, as well as having a heavy Clemson presence in our work force. We're very excited about the opportunities Clemson's business school will bring to Greenville and to our company.”

Greenville Mayor Knox White endorsed the move, which he said would have a direct economic impact on downtown Greenville.

“In addition to providing educational opportunities for local residents, the Clemson programs will attract adult students, faculty, conference and workshop participants to a location within a short walk to downtown hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment,” White said. “It also will enhance Greenville’s image as a business-friendly city and enhance industrial recruitment.”

“The vibrant Greenville business community is a living laboratory for the College of Business and Behavioral Science and a natural customer base for our growing working professional- and executive-education programs,” said college Dean Claude Lilly. “Downtown Greenville offers the urban ambience and amenities to support educational programs geared toward working professionals, executives and adult students.

“This Greenville move will strategically place college faculty and students at the epicenter of one of the Upstate's most dynamic business locations. The positive effects of top research institutions on their local and state economies are vast,” Lilly said. “Clemson’s College of Business and Behavioral Science is working to bring these benefits to South Carolina by amplifying the business activity and engagement in downtown Greenville.”

Classes could begin in January, pending final state approvals.

Clemson currently offers the executive MBA program for working professionals at the University Center of Greenville. The program is growing in popularity, with enrollment up 50 percent over the last two years. The Renaissance Center is growing larger than its Liberty Building location on Main Street. Since it opened in 2007, the center has hosted more than 20 public events serving more than 2,000 representatives of the business and education sectors. The center also houses Clemson’s Small Business Development Center.

In addition to the funding from ScanSource, private gifts, MBA tuition and fees generated from professional development and continuing education programs will make the program self-supporting.


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