Scout EV truck/SUV manufacturer investing $2B in Blythewood industrial park; bringing 4K jobs

State and county incentives will fund new I-77 interchange, several traffic circles in the town, and other improvements to roads to help alleviate traffic in and around Blythewood.

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

CORRECTION: There is a traffic light at Syrup Mill and Blythewood Roads – NOT a traffic circle. The map above has been updated to reflect the correction.

COLUMBIA – The Richland County Economic Development Office announced on Monday that Scout Motors EV, which is backed by Volkswagen, is bringing its manufacturing operations to Blythewood’s new industrial park off Blythewood Road.

The plant will build all-electric trucks and SUVs under the Scout brand with production expected to eventually reach 200,000 vehicles per year.

“Originally produced by International Harvester from 1960 to 1980, Scout was an early SUV that stopped being made in the 1980’s,” according to a statement released by the SC Department of Commerce. “Scout Motors is bringing it back as both a truck and an SUV, both all-electric.”

The company’s planned $2 billion investment and its potential to create 4,000 jobs, would both set all-time records for a Richland County economic development project according to county officials.

Choosing Blythewood

During a remote roundtable Monday morning with Governor Henry McMaster, Scout Motors CEO Scott Keogh and Secretary of the SC Department of Economic Development Harry Lightsey, Keogh said the company looked at 74 sites around the country before choosing the Blythewood site to establish the world’s first manufacturer of the Scout electric vehicles.

Incentives offered by the state and county to attract the company included $1.291 billion over and above tax and other incentives.

Gov. Henry McMaster, left, and SC Department of Commerce Sec. Harry Lightsey discuss the $2B plant during an online roundtable. | Contributed

Blythewood Road Improvements

Approximately $650 million of the $1.291 billion state incentive package will be used to fund improvements to roads in and around Blythewood to support this project and to help alleviate traffic in the Blythewood area that is already unmanageable at times, according to Jeff Ruble, Director of Richland County’s Department of Economic Development.

“The improvements to Blythewood area roads are in addition to the current penny-tax plan to widen Blythewood Road from the Exit 27 Interchange to Syrup Mill Road and to add a traffic circle near Cobblestone Park,” Ruble told The Voice. “We’ll be making additional improvements between the interchange and the traffic circle, and we’ll continue the four lanes on Blythewood Road from Syrup Mill all the way to Muller Road,” he said.

“Just about everywhere in town that there’s a road leading to the plant, the company plans to improve the intersections,” Ruble continued.

“The entrance into the industrial site off Blythewood Road will be located at Syrup Mill Road,” he said, “and we’re going to install some long turn lanes to alleviate traffic problems there. We’ll also be landscaping the 300-foot-wide buffer along Blythewood Road across from Cobblestone Park, and we’re going to do it right. Our goal is to make it look like the entrance to Cobblestone,” Ruble said.

Community Road Widened

Community Road, he said, will also be widened to four lanes.

“The goal of the company is to have most of the traffic, including employees, coming off I-77 at the new interchange or from a new road extension from Highway 21 through the Google property to the front and main entrance of the plant. This should keep a lot of the to-and-from plant traffic out of Blythewood and easily onto the interstate.”

Ruble explained that a rail spur will run from the track on the east side of Hwy 21 across Hwy 21 and extend to a rail bridge over I-77 at the lower part of the company’s complex.

“Several traffic circles will also be incorporated into some of the road improvements, particularly at Syrup Mill and Blythewood Road, at Highway 21 where it connects to the extension road through the Google property, and at intersections within the industrial site,” Rubble said.

During the Monday roundtable meeting, Lightsey echoed concern for easing local traffic.

“The new interchange and these road improvements will actually help and benefit the residents of the Blythewood community,” Lightsey said. “It will improve the traffic flow and keep traffic coming to and from the site out of downtown Blythewood.”

Plans for the $650 million incentive also include upgrades to the Blythewood fire station, and stipends to support eligible employees’ childcare costs. An onsite child care facility is also planned.

The $1.291 billion incentive package also included $400 million for the company to build facilities on the site; a $200 million loan for soil stabilization (paid back at 5 percent interest); $25 million to build a publicly owned Midlands Technical College training center for employment with Scout Motors; and $16 million for property acquisition for construction of the railroad spur to the site.

Other county incentives include a reduction in the company’s property tax assessment ratio from six percent to four percent over 40 years. County officials say the company would also be eligible for a 50 percent tax break through an infrastructure tax credit.

Richland County Council is scheduled to give the package third reading on March 21.

Scout is planning to break ground on the new manufacturing facility in mid-2023 and begin production by the end of 2026.

“This proposed manufacturing facility marks a major milestone in the history of Richland County and the potential to be our most significant economic development project to date,” said Overture Walker, Chair of the Richland County Council. “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.”

“Richland County has spent years laying the groundwork for today’s historic announcement, and we are thrilled that Scout shares our view that this area is the ideal location for a world-class company to plant its flag,” Ruble said.

Most hiring is expected to happen toward the end of 2025, according to officials. Individuals interested in joining the Scout team should visit readySC’s recruitment website.

Map updated 3/13/2022 at 9:28 a.m.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]