The Daily Gamecock

USC creates new Innovista position

University hopes hire will attract new businesses

Ann Marie Stieritz has been named director of business solutions for Innovista, a new position with a $110,000 annual salary.

Don Herriott, director of Innovista, said the new position’s purpose is to create a “single point of contact” between USC and businesses, particularly international startups, it hopes to attract to the state.

“It could be a business we’re trying to attract here, one that wants to hook up with some of our researchers, one looking for internships or one wanting to sponsor a project out of the Moore School of Business,” Herriott said. “The university is a complex organization, so it’s kind of like a maze to navigate. Businesses really don’t have the time nor the desire to understand the internal workings.”

Herriott also said that Lauren Edwards will be transferred from the president’s office into a position in charge of communications and program management that will pay $61,000 a year.

“When I first came on, I had always told President Pastides I would need two additional hires, but until I got through this strategic plan I wouldn’t know who I wanted to hire,” Herriott said. “These had been allocated but unfilled.”

Over the past nine months, Innovista has interviewed businesses that have expressed the need for simplified communication with the university. Moore School of Business Dean Hildy Teegen, who is helping plan Innovista’s relocation, personally interviewed Stieritz. Herriott said that the Moore School will be able to do market research and strategies for startup international businesses, as well as assist them with practical issues such as getting visas and business licenses and understanding American cultural norms.

According to a USC press release, Stieritz has worked at the S.C. Technical College system for the past four years, most recently serving as vice president for economic development and workforce competitiveness. Herriott said he was impressed by Stieritz’s creation of both the Technical College apprenticeship program, which increased the number of S.C. apprenticeships by 400 percent, and the 12 Regional Education Centers that provide resources and information to students and teachers.

“That required us to put together a board of directors of each one of them, so talk about a very complicated approach in dealing with a wide variety of people,” Herriott said. “She did that in about nine months’ time.”

Stieritz has worked in Paris, France, Northern Africa and Micronesia — experience that Herriott said would come in handy when trying to attract international companies.

Herriott became director of Innovista after the resignation of John Parks, who came under scrutiny for not sharing information about tax evasion convictions against fired developer Kale Roscoe and lawsuits against himself and Roscoe for their work at the University of Kentucky. The Innovista project, launched in 2005, was promised to bring thousands of jobs to the state, but Herriott said it had only directly attracted about 250. However, Herriott said that Innovista has indirectly attracted businesses such as AQT, a company that creates solar panels and established 1,000 jobs near Blythewood.

“We can’t claim full credit, but would they have come without USC? The odds certainly would have been decreased,” Herriott said. “Our strategy is not necessarily to build buildings and fill them up but to create jobs. Having a person focused on that will accelerate that and increase flow.”

Herriott said Innovista was doing better at creating startup companies, saying that the USC Technology Incubator has 60 companies and that 30 companies formed in the last four years are using USC intellectual property. Herriott said his real vision for Innovista would be creating thousands of jobs in five or 10 years and within 20 years seeing an international business with billions of dollars in sales born and bred in the Midlands.