Richland County locks in local incentives for Scout plant that plans to bring 4,000 jobs

Richland County Council on Tuesday night locked in tax breaks for a company that plans to build a $2 billion electric vehicle plant in Blythewood, putting one of the final puzzle pieces in place in terms of local and state incentives used to recruit the project that plans to bring in 4,000 jobs.

Council unanimously approved incentives Tuesday for Scout Motors, a Volkswagen affiliate, which plans to build electric trucks and SUVs in an industrial park in Blythewood, north of Columbia off Interstate 77. The facility will be spread across 1,100 acres, with plans to start producing vehicles by 2026. Officials have said that when the plant is fully revved up (pun intended), it could produce up to 200,000 vehicles per year.

Council passed what is known as a fee in lieu of tax deal for the project. Such arrangements have long been the norm for big economic development deals in South Carolina.

According to county records, the period for the incentives for the company would be for 40 years. The company’s property would be assessed at a tax rate of 4%. Manufacturing property in South Carolina can typically be assessed at rates up to 10.5%, according to the state Department of Commerce.

Scout also will be able get a further 50% tax break through making investments in infrastructure, a setup known as an infrastructure tax credit.

County Council Chairman Overture Walker said in a March 3 statement that the Scout project is a “major milestone” for the county and that it “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 county tax breaks are just a piece of the raft of incentives Scout received to locate in Richland County.

The state legislature also has approved a roughly $1.3 billion incentives package for the project, which will include, among other things, building a railway bridge over Interstate 77 to the Blythewood industrial park site, building a new I-77 interchange to serve the eventual factory, additional road improvements, electrical work, water and sewer infrastructure, and stabilizing the soil on the site. The company also will be given $400 million for site construction as a part of the $1.3 billion state package.

Battery recycling plant also gets tax incentives approved

In other economic development news from Tuesday’s county meeting, Council approved tax breaks for Cirba Solutions to establish a facility near Columbia where it would recycle lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Previously referenced as “Project Viper,” Cirba will invest $323 million in a plant at Pineview Industrial Park off Shop Road in Lower Richland. The project would bring in 310 new jobs.

Council unanimously approved tax breaks for the Cirba project Tuesday. The term of the incentive would be for 40 years, and the company would get a property tax assessment rate of 4%, rather than a higher percentage that could be applied to a manufacturing enterprise.

“South Carolina has worked hard to create a business environment where the electric vehicle industry can thrive, and with announcements like this it is most certainly paying off,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a Wednesday news release. “We are proud to have Cirba Solutions as a partner as we continue to grow our already booming electric vehicle industry.”