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South Carolina: An Automotive Hub

South Carolina is becoming an automotive state and manufacturing hub, bringing jobs for the next generation. As someone who has written about the importance of American-made manufacturing, it is so encouraging to see many companies bring production back to the United States, and I am particularly excited to see it happening here in what is now my own home state. I am not typically one to hand out accolades in the political world (this is not about politics), but in this case I can say I am proud of the efforts of Governor Henry McMaster and his mission to build a strong manufacturing base. In fact, Governor, I would personally like to shake your hand and thank you for being so forward-thinking for manufacturing.

For those of you who might not recall, I wrote the book Mending Manufacturing, How America Can Manufacture Its Survival back in 2004. If we want manufacturing to survive here in the states, we need a diverse approach to problem solving. It’s about thinking differently with employees of all ages and genders. It’s about recognizing that it’s time to innovate effectively and creatively. We also needed government and industry to take that first step together, which it seems is what is happening right here in South Carolina.

Governor McMaster seems to have created an aggressive campaign on building a manufacturing base here. One very recently example is Scout Motors Inc.—an independent U.S. company backed by Volkswagen Group—is establishing its first manufacturing plant in Blythewood, which is near Columbia, S.C. (I actually get my hair cut and colored in a lovely salon in Blythewood; so as you can see I too am eager for this community to prosper along with the state.)

“Scout Motors will provide thousands of South Carolinians with previously unimagined opportunities and prosperity for generations to come,” says McMaster. “The Palmetto State, with its rich history, superior people, and sterling automotive manufacturing reputation, is the perfect place to re-start this iconic American brand.”

Scout trucks and rugged SUVs will be built on a newly designed all-electric platform. Attributes include ground clearance, approach angles, robust axles, payload capacity, all-electric range, and new digital features. With a focus on injecting American ingenuity, Scout products will honor its heritage to create a new era of iconic all-purpose vehicles.

The manufacturing plant itself will bring new opportunities. The Blythewood Industrial Site, off Interstate 77, spans approximately 1,600 acres, with the plant itself occupying 1,100 acres. The company’s $2 billion investment has the potential to create 4,000 or more permanent jobs. At full capacity, more than 200,000 Scout vehicles may be produced annually at the facility. Vehicle production is targeted to begin by the end of 2026.

This is simply one recent example. I have also written about a new Battery Materials Campus, just outside Charleston, S.C., that will create more than 1,500 jobs and invest roughly $3.5 billion in the local community. As another instance, another manufacturer opened its new door manufacturing facility in Fort Mill, S.C., which will employ roughly 220 people when fully staffed.

The bottomline here is it is very encouraging to see production returning to American soil. The opportunities are endless, and the jobs abound. Now, we have the challenge of encouraging and inspiring the younger generation to see the same opportunities that exist in the manufacturing industry. We need to empower them to make and build a better car, door, battery, or whatever comes next. It seems to me that is where the hard work truly starts.

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