Four major economic development wins for the I-77 corridor in South Carolina have set the stage for a memorable 2023 while demonstrating the significant opportunities it presents for existing industry and newcomers alike.
In late February, IKO Industries announced that Chester County would be the location of their first operations in South Carolina with a $363 million capital investment, the largest investment in the company’s history. This project will create 180 new jobs in two phases through the reuse of a recently shuttered industrial plant and the construction of a new facility, both along the fast-growing S.C. Highway 9 industrial corridor. The company’s long-established niche aligns with one of the I-77 region’s strongest industry clusters, advanced materials products.
Then on March 22, Albemarle Corporation said it would invest at least $1.3 billion to build a “Mega-Flex” lithium hydroxide processing facility on an 800-acre site, also near Richburg in Chester County. That project will create more than 300 new jobs and the facility is expected to produce approximately 50,000 tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide to support the surging demand for electric vehicles.
In early March, Scout Motors, a Volkswagen Group-backed spinoff, announced it would invest $2 billion and create up to 4,000 new jobs in Richland County to manufacture electric pickup trucks and SUVs under the Scout Motors brand at Blythewood Business Park off I-77. The impact of this development on the transportation equipment manufacturing sector, another strong industrial cluster in the five counties of the I-77 region, cannot be overstated.
The fourth major announcement was from Cirba Solutions, which announced plans to build a lithium-ion battery recycling and materials campus at Pineview Industrial Park just off I-77 in southeastern Columbia in Richland County. The initial investment of $300 million is expected to lead to more than 300 new jobs and is one more big step toward South Carolina becoming a global player in the surging growth of electric vehicle production.
I-77 Corridor is Ideal Location to Maximize ROI: Our “3 Uniques” from Columbia to Charlotte
The rationale for these four companies in selecting the same region (which technically is in two metropolitan areas) for substantial investments comes down to the same unique proposition, that the I-77 corridor is an ideal location for companies to maximize the ROI of their capex investment.
Our benefits can be distilled down to following points we call our “three uniques”:
- Our remarkably strong portfolio of certified greenfield sites and industrial property
- A labor shed of more than 1.3 million people across the dual metro regions of Charlotte and Columbia serving as bookends to our corridor.
- A particularly high concentration of manufacturing operations, especially for predominantly rural areas such as Chester and Fairfield counties, resulting in the development of a workforce infrastructure that is continually stocking a pipeline of skilled labor.
There are few other regions, if any, with the same offering and these are in addition to the other numerous assets and resources offered by the region and the state of South Carolina. The announcements from IKO Industries, Cirba Solutions, Albemarle, and Scout Motors prove this claim and serve as testimonials to their peers.
The I-77 Corridor, with our business-friendly local governments, robust educational communities including a nationally recognized technical college and industry-specific skills training ecosystem, affordable and often shovel-ready industrial sites, and affordable residential real estate and attractive lifestyle opportunities – stands ready to work with recruiters and site selectors, company decision-makers, and other stakeholders to find the ideal home for their next project.