International African American Museum's African Roots

Fluor's $500,000 leadership gift will be recognized in the International African American Museum's African Roots gallery. Rendering provided

One of South Carolina's major construction firms has pushed Charleston's International African American Museum closer to the finish line in its fund-raising drive.

The Fluor Foundation, the charitable arm of the global engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction and maintenance company, announced a $500,000 donation Friday. The gift moves the fund-raising goal to less than $1 million.

Fluor has been involved in multiple projects in the Charleston area, including leading the construction team that’s building an access road connecting Interstate 26 with a new shipping terminal being built at the former Navy Base in North Charleston. Fluor was also working with Westinghouse on the construction of the VC Summer nuclear plant in Jenkinsville before it was shut down.

Fluor is based in Irving, Texas, and has an office in Greenville. The Fortune 500 company reported $19.5 billion in revenue last year and more than 56,000 employees worldwide.

"Fluor values diversity and has always prioritized education," Torrence Robinson, president of the Fluor Foundation and Fluor’s senior director of Global Community Affairs, said in a statement Friday. "The IAAM’s function as a center of learning and serving students, not only in South Carolina but across the nation through digital engagement, aligned perfectly with our objectives. We look forward to watching this institution come to fruition and educate students for years to come."

Fluor's investment will be recognized in the African Roots gallery, which will give visitors a picture of the cultures, knowledge and technologies that Africans brought to the Americas through the forced migration of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

"Fluor has been a major corporation in South Carolina for more than 80 years and now operates in six continents,” Michael Boulware, the museum's president and CEO, said. "While based in Charleston, the International African American Museum will convey critical chapters of history that are relevant to people across the nation and the world, in all of the communities that Fluor serves."

Moore recently said said he expects construction to start early next year, with an opening two years later.

The museum will be built near the Maritime Center on the site of the former Gadsden's Wharf, where thousands of enslaved Africans were unloaded from ships in the early 1800s. The city of Charleston is leasing the land to the museum for a nominal amount and will oversee the construction contract.

The plan is to finance the $75 million cost of construction with $25 million in private donations, $25 million from the city and Charleston County, and $25 million from the state.

Reach Dave Munday at 843-937-5553.