Project Drift’ is no longer operating in the shadows. According to multiple sources familiar with the impending announcement, the anonymous company planning to invest $3.5 billion and bring as many as 1,500 jobs to Berkeley County, South Carolina is none other than Redwood Materials.
Sources close to the office of South Carolina governor Henry McMaster say the announcement is being prepared for mid-December – although there are still “some concerns” over the incentives package.
“It is not a done deal,” one state-level economic development official told me.
Concerns have also been raised over recent comments attributed to a prominent South Carolina legislative leader who reportedly dissed the electric vehicle market at an August 2022 conference.
“Some are questioning whether the state’s legislative leadership is committed to (this project),” a source close to the negotiations told me. “That’s been a real problem considering the extent of local and state collaboration required.”
This Carson City, Nevada-based company specializes in the recycling of lithium ion batteries. It was founded in 2017 by JB Straubel, the former chief technical officer at Tesla.
Back in October, this news outlet reported on a spate of new economic development announcements tied to the electric vehicle market. This is reportedly one of them, although there has been a glaring lack of transparency regarding the myriad state and local incentives tied to the company – which is operating under the name of “Camp Hall Campus 3 LLC” in an effort to conceal its identity.
The Redwood Materials’ announcement has been billed as the “biggest single industrial investment in South Carolina history” by reporter David Wren of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier.
It will come at a massive cost to Palmetto State taxpayers, however. According to Wren, Berkeley County will have to shell out $110 million on road infrastructure enhancements related to this project – which would be located at the Camp Hall industrial site just off of Interstate 26 near the crony capitalist Volvo facility.
Worth recalling? Volvo received a taxpayer-funded interchange as part of the massive incentives package it received when it located in Berkeley County in 2015 – a project which was bumped ahead of far more pressing infrastructure needs.
Volvo is also one of Redwood Materials’ top customers.
Massive county-level property tax breaks as well as huge state-level job development tax breaks are also in the works for the Redwood Materials project – making it one of the Palmetto State’s biggest crony capitalist announcements to date.
Do these command economic development deals yield dividends for taxpayers? Sometimes. But often times they don’t … as our audience was reminded of just yesterday when I filed this report regarding the state’s botched deal with the Carolina Panthers.
Ultimately, there is a cost associated with every market-distorting subsidy doled out by government – including the subsidies that “work.”
Is South Carolina’s excessive reliance on these deals really “working,” though? As I have previously noted, the Palmetto State consistently ranks near the bottom of the barrel nationally in terms of both its workforce and the money its workers earn (see here and here).
In other words, these deals aren’t paying off for everyone … which is probably one reason politicians love to keep them under wraps. Or, straight up lie about them.
Redwood Materials is already building a massive battery recycling facility in its home state of Nevada. Its ongoing buildout is part of its goal of generating enough materials to supply recycled battery power to one million electric vehicles by 2025 and five million electric vehicles by 2030.
This is a developing story … please check back for updates.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
(Via: Phillippe Randolph Folks)
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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