According to the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina’s senior (over age 65) population is projected
to grow by 133 percent between 2000 and 2030, stressing the state’s physical and financial infrastructure. Unless society finds new ways to promote independence for older adults, the healthcare system and nursing homes will soon be hard-pressed to accommodate the 80-and-over population.
The state of South Carolina is investing $5 million in startup funds for the SeniorSMART™ Center of Economic Excellence, and partners and private investors will match that money and more.
In return, SeniorSMART research and partnerships will create economic growth around the state through a network that includes research and development at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, at Clemson University, at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and at hospital and healthcare providers in Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg.
In addition to the creation of jobs for new faculty, staff, and employees statewide, the Center will create material goods and contract services to install and monitor technologies. Additional outside businesses will be attracted to this state-of-the-art center, resulting in new employment opportunities for South Carolina’s citizens.
The program provides an economic impact both in terms of additional research funding for the University of South Carolina, but also in the creation of private, spin-off companies that will bring additional jobs to the state.
Economic impact is estimated at nearly $29 million
over a five-year period.
According to Dr. Paul Eleazer, director of SeniorSMART™ and director of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics, “it will be especially important for the University and the School of Medicine to enhance our ability to get top-flight researchers. That’s critical from a university perspective, because with the Center come new programs, including graduate programs. It’s particularly important to get NIH and NSF-level researchers.”
Dr. Eleazer praises the state centers of economic excellence concept. “The intent of the legislation is to move South Carolina into the next phase with technology-based jobs that are high-paying,” he says. “The purpose is to create jobs for South Carolinians.
“It’s the continued shift from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy and now to a technology- and information-based economy. It’s something we need, otherwise we’ll be lagging behind the rest of the world.”