Ruble unfolds more about what Scout will bring to BW

BLYTHEWOOD – Speaking to members of the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, Richland County Economic Development Director Jeff Ruble revealed more information about what Scout Motors EV will be bringing to Blythewood and the state.

The Good Stuff

  • The state’s investment in the Scout venture is closer to $2.4 billion, and the jobs Scout will provide are closer to 4,800.
  • Contractors will start moving dirt on the Scout site Monday morning, April 17, and expect to go vertical by December or January and start production in 2026.
  • An on-site (or very nearby) child care facility will probably have a medical center tied to it.
  • There will be a 25,000 square foot on-site training facility that will probably eventually be deeded over to Midlands Tech, giving Blythewood a technical college in the community.
  • A lot of salaried positions will bring the type of executives not seen in Blythewood since PMSC days, and will most likely have a direct impact on housing values in the community.
  • There’ll be traffic circles on Blythewood Road (at Cobblestone), several inside the industrial park and the company has asked SCDOT for one where the connector from the plant intersects with Highway 21 (near Rimer Pond Road traffic light.)
  • $3.5 million is budgeted for landscaping on Blythewood Road to beautify and shield plant from road
  • Many of the 600 relocations will be Germans employees (some temporary)
  • A fire station will be built on site for Scout.
  • A new ladder truck will be provided to the Blythewood fire station, and there will be other personnel and equipment improvements at the station

Speed Mattered

Ruble also talked about the history of the Blythewood Industrial Park site and listed several high dollar companies that had looked seriously at the site over the last couple of years. The break came with the Inflation Reduction Act, Ruble said. Large single users started looking at Blythewood in earnest. And some wanted to set up shop – a Chinese solar company, a Korean battery company, a semiconductor chip company.

“It is a great site,” Ruble said. “Big electric lines and big water lines. You won’t find this anywhere else.

“We were busy. We had one Suburban leaving the site while another was coming in,” he said.

The SC team knew what it had, though, and didn’t see most of these companies as the right one.

Then, on Dec. 9, 2022, the right company called. It was Scout Motors EV.

Ruble quoted from an interview with Scout CEO Scott Keogh that he’d read that morning in Automotive News: “The reason we picked this site [Blythewood] was speed,” Keogh said.

Ruble said that after just three whirlwind months, on March 3, Scott called to say Scout had picked Blythewood over 74 other sites across the country.

“They got in here, got questions answered and decision made in a fast time frame,” Ruble said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and this was absolutely the most intensive project I’ve ever worked. They were bringing in huge teams, 25 engineers at a time, inundating us with every detail.”

And there are still many more meetings and approvals ahead.

“We’ll be going back to Blythewood on April 24 for first reading on the rail yard rezoning,” he said.

A Message Kept

 “The minute I got the call on March 3, I started getting hundreds of text messages, emails and phone calls,” Ruble said, “but the one I kept is one I received from Norm Swygert, the oldest of three sons of Margaret and Pete Swygert, who owned the property.

“Hey, we grew up with a Scout out there on our property,” he wrote. “That is so cool that they’re going to make them on our site.”

Biggest Ever

“In my 30 years of working in economic development, I don’t think I’ve met a company more environmentally, socially, community conscious than Scout Motors,” Ruble said. “I thoroughly believe they will be a great neighbor.”

“Plus, as Commerce Secretary Lightsey said, ‘This is one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to the Columbia community.’ It’s a transformational, generational type project.

“If we had developed this park the way we had originally intended, one plant at a time over 20 years,” Ruble said, “we’d have never been able to invest this kind of money in road improvements and other infrastructure such as the new I-77 interchange between exits 24 and 27. This may not fix all the traffic problems in Blythewood, but it at least won’t make them worse.”

Rail Yard

Ruble said a rail yard on site was not in the original plans, but is now going to be brought onto the site.

“For residents of Ashley Oaks whose backyards would border the rail yard, the company will provide a 600-foot wide buffer, a 75-foot elevation of the rail, build a berm and plant it with trees and shrubs. Ruble also plans to have a sit-down with those residents soon to talk about ways to mitigate the noise issue. That information will be in next week’s Voice paper and Facebook page.

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