Build BMWs. Drive BMWs.

In an effort to make Upstate South Carolina (the site of BMW’s only North American manufacturing plant) even more influential in the automotive industry, BMW has joined forces with Clemson University and the State of South Carolina to develop the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research.
This New York Times story sheds light on the cozy relationship between Clemson—a state institution—and BMW.

Japanese and German carmakers have turned the region into a Detroit of the South. According to state figures, the auto industry employs 31,000 people in South Carolina. The BMW SUV that Clemson’s president, James F. Barker, is driving is part of a pool that the automaker has provided to state leaders.
Through its new school and unusual partnership with BMW, Clemson becomes the first university in the nation to offer a doctoral degree in automotive engineering.
The Center for Automotive Research is being built on 250 wooded acres along Interstate 85 on the outskirts of Greenville, 40 miles northeast of the Clemson campus. The program will train engineers who can design, build, and market high-tech vehicles and who might work for BMW after graduation.

If you read the Times piece, you’ll see the writer looking for impropreity. I don’t see it. I see an industry that needs new ideas and a population that needs high paying jobs. A collaborative effort between business and a state university (that needs funding, one way or another) seems a good way to go.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.