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New Consortium to Fuel Breakthrough Collaborative Information Technology Growth and Build Next Generation Skills in South Carolina


COLUMBIA, SC - 18 Dec 2008: BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, IBM (NYSE: IBM), and the University of South Carolina (USC) today announced the creation of the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management, a unique collaboration that will build information technology (IT) opportunities of the future.

The consortium, believed to be the first of its kind anywhere, aims to converge business, academia and economic development to collaborate in growing IT talent, nurturing IT management expertise and cultivating related business and organizational relationships.

At a news event to launch the consortium, BlueCross chairman and CEO M. Edward Sellers said the collaboration will help drive economic development in the state and nation. "What's happening in Columbia, South Carolina, is the kind of IT growth that the IT industry desperately needs," he said. "By converging business, academia and economic development, this new consortium will engender a sort of 'IT greenhouse' that is needed in the Palmetto State and across the nation."

The consortium will address growing IT hiring challenges, such as attracting students to consider technology careers in insurance, banking, retail, airlines, petroleum and other industries dependent on high volume transaction processing. It also will dedicate efforts to directing students to companies that are hiring IT professionals.

University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides said education is the first step in developing the IT workforce.

"The university will work with teachers in our state's middle schools and high schools to ensure that their students have the education and skills needed for IT careers," Pastides said. "This consortium will be a great economic boon for our state as we develop opportunities for businesses and industries with our state and seek to attract those from outside South Carolina," he said.

According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, five of the nine fastest-growing occupations in the United States require a college degree in computer science or engineering. Four colleges from USC are participating in the consortium. They are the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computing, the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, and the Moore School of Business.

The consortium will be housed on 14,120 square feet of two floors at Horizon II in the University of South Carolina's Innovista research campus in Columbia, S.C. "Innovista is a catalyst for the Palmetto State's future, and this consortium will have a vital role in developing the people who will be our informational technology leaders," Pastides said.

BlueCross' Sellers said each of the founding partners brings its own strengths to the consortium.

Through IBM's Academic Initiative, IBM will provide software for the consortium's future site. IBM currently provides "machine time" on its high-end server, also known as the IBM System z mainframe, for student and professor use at USC.

With financial support from BlueCross and other members, the new consortium has a board consisting of six seats currently occupied by representatives from BlueCross, IBM and USC. The board will hire an executive director and a marketing manager. As the consortium grows, board membership will increase to include other organizations.

A portion of the second floor of Horizon II will house a board room, meeting rooms and classrooms for post graduate training of business and academic professionals. Also operating from the space in multi-purpose classrooms will be programs already running at USC and other locations, such as computer camps for high school students. It also will host incubator opportunities and space for applied research. The ground floor will house a data center provided by IBM in the form of computer hardware, software and maintenance support.

"Positioning IBM's computer hardware and software in the consortium's facility is an excellent way for students to learn on the same set of technologies used by our worldwide clients," said Mark Anzani, vice president of System z at IBM.

Charter members BlueCross, IBM and USC have begun soliciting organizations that use IT to join the new group. The model for participation from other companies and universities is based on seeking a high volume of participants at a low financial entry fee. The power of this model for economic and workforce development will be in leveraging the common, collaborative activities shared by a large number of business and academic entities. Interested organizations may call 877-214-3513 for more information.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (www.SouthCarolinaBlues.com), an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the largest private company employer of IT professionals in the state. The company's more than 2,200 IT employees develop, execute and monitor more than 800 million health care claims and 8 billion online transactions a year for its private health insurance, federal government contracts, and other insurance divisions.

For two centuries, the University of South Carolina's scholarship, research and outreach efforts have contributed to the greater good of society. With 39,000 students on eight campuses and more than 350 degree programs -- including law, engineering, public health and medicine -- and 240,000 alumni, the University is improving the lives of individuals in South Carolina and around the world. South Carolina has received the highest research designation awarded by the Carnegie Foundation, and the University's undergraduate international business program is ranked best in the nation in U.S. News & World Report.

For more information about IBM's Academic Initiative, visit www.ibm.com/university. IBM most recently launched a profile page for its high-end server, System z, on Facebook for students and professors to connect, share mainframe news, contests, events, and job opportunities. To be friends with System z or meet other System z friends, visit the System z Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com. keyword: systemz mainframe.


Contact(s) information

Mylissa Tsai
IBM Media Relations
917-472-3680

Elizabeth Hammond
BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
803-264-4626

Margaret Lamb
University of South Carolina
803-777-5400

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