More than 200 attend Town Hall Q&A about Scout Motors EV

The state and county incentives to bring Scout Motors to the Blythewood industrial park include a new I-77 interchange, traffic circles, road widenings, and other road improvements in and around the town. | Graphic: Ashley Ghere

 BLYTHEWOOD – Traffic congestion, potential noise and pollution, and hiring locally were among the issues Blythewood area residents raised during a recent town hall meeting about the Scout Motors EV plant coming to Blythewood’s industrial park.

On Monday night, 200 residents packed into Doko Manor to learn more about the Volkswagen brand, particularly any tradeoffs between the promise of mass job creation and maintaining quality of life.

Scout plans to build a new electric vehicle plant, investing up to $2 billion and creating over 4,000 jobs. It’s being built on 1,100 acres of the 1,600-acre Blythewood Industrial Park, southwest of the I-77 and Exit 27 interchange.

Slated to open sometime in late 2026, the facility will occupy about 14.5 million to 15.5 million square feet of space.

Public officials preached one primary talking point: in spite of Scout’s plans, growth is inevitable.

“If this company had not decided to come to Blythewood, we still would be dealing with traffic issues,” said Richland County Councilman Derrek Pugh who represents the Blythewood industrial park area. He was one of four panelists at Monday night’s town hall meeting.

“This project is going to help us move forward and alleviate some of the stressors we have on our infrastructure,” Pugh said.

Jeff Ruble, economic development director for Richland County, noted that Scout’s arrival is helping to expedite several intersection and road improvements Blythewood already has on the horizon.

“We’re trying not to create new problems, but to solve ones that are already an issue,” Ruble said. “I think we’re getting a good neighbor and a good employer.”

Road Projects in the Pipeline

Monday’s forum consisted of a cross-section of 20 or so state, county and town officials. Bryant Davis with Richland County’s Community Development Department moderated a Q&A session, in which residents submitted questions beforehand.

Even in the controlled environment, roads and traffic rapidly emerged as reoccurring themes, with questions covering specific infrastructure improvements to day-to-day traffic flow.

“How will the facility affect our current infrastructure?” one submitted question asked.

“During this process, will there be road closures or detours? We are concerned about traffic issues,” another resident asked.

Political and economic development leaders said road improvements are needed to address not only increased traffic, but also to facilitate Scout’s manufacturing needs. Scout plans to produce 200,000 vehicles annually once at full capacity, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce.

Allison Bush, a civil engineer with Thomas & Hutton Engineering, said the state previously identified several needed road projects when a different industry recently considered relocating to Blythewood.

Those projects included:

  • I-77: New interchange and overpass between Exit 24 and 27
  • I-77 Connector Road: New five-lane road to U.S. 21
  • I-77 and Blythewood Road: New turn lane on Blythewood Road
  • Blythewood Road: Widen from Syrup Mill to Muller roads
  • Muller Road: Add second turn lane at Blythewood Road
  • Syrup Mill Road: Add long turn lanes at Blythewood Road
  • Community Road: Widen to four lanes and add turn lane at U.S. 21

No road closures are expected during construction.

Bush said most local projects would be completed in 2024 or 2025, though she didn’t provide exact timetables for individual projects.

The S.C. Department of Transportation is handling the new I-77 interchange and U.S. 21 connector road, with that project expected to take about four years to build.

Richland County is building a roundabout at I-77 and Community Road and at I-77 and Highway 21.

Scout also has requested installing roundabouts at the intersection of Highway 21 and the extension from I-77. Bush said the state is reviewing that request.

Employment Opportunities

Scout’s sizeable job creation spurred a few questions, ranging from salary structure to whether or not the company would consider contracting with local businesses for construction work.

The average salaried worker would make about $100,000 annually, with Scout’s hourly workers averaging $58,000 a year. Initial hires could start work sometime next year.

“These folks pay well and they demand a lot,” Ruble said.

Lightsey said the state recently set up a portal for those seeking work to express interest in working with Scout. He said about 1,100 people entered their information into the portal, and 90 percent were from South Carolina.

Scout has also advertised for its first three Blythewood jobs, he said.

S.C. Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey said Scout wants to begin construction as quickly as possible. He anticipated a rapid uptick in hiring occurring by late 2024 or early 2025.

“This area is a largely untapped labor resource,” he said. “They are very confident they can meet their job needs from the community itself.”

The company has said it will establish a training program with Midlands Technical College, and Lightsey said he thinks the company will also partner with local high schools for training.

Residents asked whether the auto manufacturer planned to utilize the local contractors for construction work.

“They (Scout) certainly want to work with local companies as much as they possibly can,” Lightsey said. “In addition to that, we will probably conduct forums where companies can meet representatives of [Scout]. We’ve had very good luck with that around the state.”

Preserving Quality of Life

Officials said Scout intends to minimize any environmental, noise, and other negative impacts, characterizing them as minimal or non-existent based on present plans.

Lightsey said as a manufacturer of EV vehicles, Scout is “very, very conscious” of environmental considerations.

“Their desire is to keep the impact on the environment surrounding the facility to the lowest level, and they’ll work really hard to accomplish that,” he said.

Ruble, the county’s economic development director, anecdotally noted that a group of Scout’s engineers working at the Richland Co. offices wouldn’t drink water bottled in plastic containers.

“They consider this waste. They’re a green company,” he said, holding a water bottle in the air.

As for noise, landscaped buffers measuring 300 feet are being installed along the property line near any residences, said Corey Wise, also with Thomas & Hutton Engineering.

“You’ll have not only a tree buffer, but also an offset from the property lines, which should reduce noise pollution,” Wise said.

Further, any emissions from the plant would be self-contained and shouldn’t migrate to nearby neighborhoods. Trains aren’t expected to haul any hazardous materials into the site either.

While some stormwater runoff is expected, Wise said retention ponds meeting or exceeding all county and state regulations are being added to capture any discharge.

“I do not expect any adverse effects on any downstream properties or roads,” he said.

Lightsey said Scout is planning future community events so residents can meet and further interact with company officials. He hoped residents would welcome Scout with open arms.

“My recommendation would be to welcome these folks in the way that South Carolinians can do,” Lightsey said. “I think they want very much to consider this as their home. They want to meet with and get to know the community.”

About 20 state, county and local officials attended the meeting, including, from right, Gretchen Barron, County Council Dist. 7, Leonardo Brown, County Admin., Patrick Wright, County Attorney, Chakisse Newton, County Council Dist. 1, Paul Livingston, County Council Dist. 4, Mia McLeod, SC Senate Dist. 22. | Photos: Barbara Ball
Derrek Pugh, Richland Co. Councilman
Richland County Chair Overture Walker & R2 Interim Superintendent Nancy Gregory


  1. Paul S Beverly says

    The new interchange on I-77 needs to line up with Rimer Pond. Traffic light and a round-about so close together doesn’t make sense.

    Once upon a time a priority was to line Blythewood Rd and Langford up. Where is that plan now? Lining those roads up with a single traffic light would help that section tremendously.

    Also need to put in smart traffic lights. They sense the traffic and change the green/red lights accordingly.

  2. John Duncan says

    All in.

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