Secretary of Commerce defends Scout Motors

Op Ed by Harry M. Lightsey III, Secretary of Commerce

After considering more than 70 other sites across the country, in March 2023, Scout Motors, Inc. (Scout) chose to make its home in Blythewood, South Carolina to build all-new Scout vehicles that will be all-purpose, all-electric, and all-American. Today, the 1,600-acre Richland County site is buzzing with activity associated with the construction of a state-of-the-art manufacturing and assembly facility. The facility has already focused national and global attention on our state and the Columbia area. 

The anticipated $2 billion investment and 4,000 permanent jobs associated with the Scout project is arguably the most significant economic development announcement ever made in the Midlands, which has for decades lagged the Upstate and the Lowcountry in attracting taxable investment and high-quality, good paying jobs – the kind that will provide generational opportunities for residents. As home to the iconic Scout brand, the Midlands gains an identity that it has lacked, in the same way BMW is associated with the Upstate and Boeing and Volvo are associated with the Lowcountry. 

The South Carolina Policy Council and the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation recently filed a complaint against Scout for allegedly failing to register as a lobbyist principal. The main purpose of filing the complaint appears to be primarily to create an opportunity to publicly smear Scout and rehash long-standing grievances the Policy Council has with the confidential, competitive process of economic development recruitment and with economic development incentives. The narrative is always the same regardless of the facts, which in this case do not support the narrative and only serve to discredit Scout unfairly and hurt our state’s reputation. 

The story of how South Carolina won Scout is remarkable. Because of the transformational nature of the project and its impact on the Midlands and the state, after the project announced publicly on March 6, 2024, Governor Henry McMaster and I made ourselves available on more than one occasion to answer questions from various national, state, and local news outlets about the project and the recruitment process. Thereafter, The State told the story about how South Carolina won Scout after having been eliminated from an extensive site selection process only to find itself at the eleventh hour back in the game. How South Carolina Won Scout. 

Despite the allegations and innuendos contained in the complaint, the record shows that Scout was not involved in the process that resulted in the overwhelming support by the General Assembly in passing H3604 by a vote of 100 to 12 in the House and 36 to 4 in the Senate. Before the bill was considered, I met with both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate in a completely transparent manner and answered any and all questions. The bill was then open to lengthy debate in both Houses before votes were taken. Scout was not involved in any of these activities, and accordingly had no obligation under the law to register as a lobbyist principal. 

South Carolina has experienced unprecedented success over many decades in bringing global industry leaders, like BMW, Volvo, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, GE and many others to our state. We are proud of the pro-business economic climate and the “can do” reputation of our people. These successes have provided incredible jobs for our citizens and supported growth and prosperity in the communities where facilities are located. We are a committed partner to all companies in our state from “Launch to Legacy”.  

This Op Ed is submitted by the Secretary of Commerce and does not reflect the viewpoints of MyrtleBeachSC News.