China Jushi broke ground today for a $300 million manufacturing facility in southeast Columbia that’s expected to create 400 jobs.
The construction of an 80,000-ton production line, scheduled to be completed in 2018, is the first phase of the Zhejiang, China-based company’s plans to establish a manufacturing footprint for fiberglass reinforcements in the United States.
Richland County Council Chairman Torrey Rush said the firm is expected to invest another $200 million and build a second plant that would create another 400 jobs. Jushi’s investment would total $500 million and create 800 jobs, Rush said.
Jushi executives were joined on stage by state and local officials, including Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster. McMaster is slated to succeed Gov. Nikki Haley if she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
McMaster, a former South Carolina attorney general, heralded the state’s pluses for attracting new businesses before a crowd of about 150 local and state government officials and business leaders.
McMaster noted plans to expand the Port of Charleston, adding that it will be the only port in the United States served by two inland ports. He bragged about the state’s research universities, abundant supply of water, growing capacity to provide electricity, and a technical college system that’s geared to meet industry needs for trained workers.
“We have more potential than any other place in the country,” McMaster said.
The Jushi plant will be the anchor tenant of the 900-acre Pineview Industrial Park near the intersection of Pineview and Shop roads. The site offers close access to Interstate 77 and is served by a Norfolk Southern line that cuts through the park.
The project – Jushi’s first manufacturing site in North America – is the largest economic development announcement in Richland County since Union Camp hatched plans for a $600 million paper mill in Eastover in 1981, county officials said, citing S.C. Department of Commerce records.
“We’re excited to announce the largest capital investment in Richland County since 1981,” Rush said. “It’s a big deal for Richland County.”
County officials cited key components that led to the success of attracting China Jushi:
- Richland County Council’s commitment to purchase the Pineview Industrial Park property.
- The creation of the county’s Economic Development Office, which worked for years to secure the project.
- The Transportation Penny Program’s funding of the Shop Road extension from Pineview Road to Longwood.
Although the industrial park is in an unincorporated section of the county, cooperation from the City of Columbia in providing infrastructure was key in landing the Jushi project, officials said.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin noted that Jushi will become the city’s largest sewer and water customer.
“This is a harbinger of things to come,” Benjamin said. “This is a good solid global corporation making a significant investment outside of China.”
The China Jushi announcement also represents an example of the state’s ability to attract foreign direct investment. Earlier this year, fDi magazine ranked South Carolina as the national champion in recruiting overseas-based companies to invest in the state.
The magazine’s No. 1 ranking of South Carolina was based on data collected on foreign direct investment projects in the United States between September 2014 and August 2015. South Carolina topped North Carolina, Indiana and California for the title.
S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt noted that since 2011 international firms from more than 30 countries have invested $14 billion in the state and created 30,000 jobs. China-based companies, Hitt added, have invested $800 million since 2011 and plan to create 2,000 jobs.
Jushi is a leading supplier of fiberglass reinforcements and fabrics to the reinforced plastics industry worldwide. With more than 20 years of experience in the U.S. market, Jushi already has a strong brand influence in American markets. The new production line is designed to supplement the growing composite material industry in the United States.