A Virginia-based electric vehicle manufacturer has announced a historic investment to establish manufacturing operations in Richland County.
The Richland County Economic Development Office has revealed that Scout Motors Inc., makers of the next-generation of all-electric trucks and rugged SUVs, has decided to establish its manufacturing operations in Blythewood.
The company’s planned $2 billion investment has the potential to create 4,000 or more permanent jobs, both of which would set new all-time records for a Richland County economic development project, according to a news release.
Scout is planning to break ground on the new manufacturing facility in Blythewood Industrial Park in mid-2023 and begin production by the end of 2026.
The Scout deal marks a true milestone in the history of Richland County unlike anything long-time residents have seen, according to Jeff Ruble, director of the Richland County Economic Development Office.
“This is truly a transformative moment,” Ruble said in an interview with SC Biz News. “For years we’ve watched things like this happen for other communities and people have asked why and pointed fingers over why it wasn’t happening here. Now it is and it’s pretty rewarding to work hard for something like this and see some results.”
The deal is also notable for how fast it was. Ruble said Scout didn't even approach the county until Dec. 19, and consultants for the plan told him it was among the fastest deals they've ever completed. Richland County Council had been discussing the project at recent meetings under the code name “Project Connect.”
“This was an intense fast process,” Ruble said. “Scout chose Richland County because of many factors including the location and the work force. Company officials wanted a place where they could feel at home and be a good fit for the community, and we think both Columbia and the Blythewood area re going to embrace them.”
Company officials hope to begin construction of the Scout facility in January 2024 in the County industrial park off I-77 in Blythewood. The plant will be built in the southwest quadrant of the park along Blythewood Road, Ruble said.
“This proposed manufacturing facility marks a major milestone in the history of Richland County and the potential for our most significant economic development project to date,” said Overture Walker, chair of the Richland County Council, in the release. “This decision represents a transformational breakthrough that would position us at the forefront of the clean energy future while promising to boost the quality of life for residents across our County for generations to come.”
The state of South Carolina and Richland County plan to make significant investments to infrastructure and roads to support this project, the release stated. Richland County plans to dedicate funding to upgrade the Blythewood Fire Station. As part of the County’s incentive package, employees at Scout would be eligible for stipends to support employees’ childcare. Richland County Council is scheduled to give the package third reading on March 21.
Originally produced by International Harvester from 1960 to 1980, Scout was the world’s first utility vehicle capable of both off-road adventure and family duty, according to the release. Building on that celebrated legacy, Scout will be making the next generation of all-electric trucks and rugged SUVs in the same tradition that made the original Scout vehicles an American icon.
“We’re honored to partner with South Carolina to usher in this new era for Scout,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO of Scout Motors, in the release. “Gov. McMaster is committed to investing in the state’s people, and we plan to bring new opportunities to grow this community of innovators. The world needs more Scouts, and this is an important step in honoring Scout heritage and electrifying its future.”