State’s largest economic development coming to Berkeley County

Redwood Materials is investing $3.5 billion and creating 1,500 jobs in Ridgeville
A maker of electric vehicle battery components is bringing a $3.5 billion investment to Berkeley County.
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 11:53 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2022 at 7:31 PM EST
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A maker of electric vehicle battery components is bringing a $3.5 billion investment to Berkeley County.

The investment from Redwood Materials marks the largest economic development announcement in South Carolina history, passing BMW’s $1.7 billion investment in Spartanburg in October.

“Our operations here will be 100% electric, just like every factory in the future is going to need to be,” Redwood Materials Founder & CEO JB Straubel said. “We won’t use any fossil fuels in our process or in the entire site. We won’t use any natural gas in the entire site, and we will work toward sourcing zero-emission clean energy.”

The company’s announcement to bring the manufacturing of anode and cathode battery components to the Lowcountry will create 1,500 jobs.

“We will hire many of our employees from the local region, but it’s still critical to us that we can recruit efficiently some of the best and brightest talent from all over the country and all over the world,” Founder & CEO JB Straubel said.

The company’s more than 600-acre campus will be located at the Camp Hill Commerce Park in Ridgeville and initially produce enough material for 100 gigawatt-hours of battery cell production or 1 million electric vehicles.

“This site, more importantly, has enough space and enough capacity to expand well beyond that, all the way to several hundreds of gigawatt hours per year,” Straubel said.

The company says, by creating a circular supply chain in the U.S. for electric vehicles, they will drive down costs and emissions related to the supply chain.

Redwood Materials works with companies that have existing operations in the U.S. to reclaim and recycle batteries and production scrap to produce battery components.

Gov. Henry McMaster says the influx of electric plants coming into the state will entice more companies to follow suit.

“Once you reach a certain critical mass, which we have done here, more and more of the companies that are looking to the future will come here, and that means a great future for our people,” McMaster said.

The company said its efforts allow for the recovery of more than 95% of minerals such as nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper from batteries and reuse those materials in the anode and cathode materials it creates.

Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb said the campus will allow the county to hire more teachers and sheriff’s deputies or allow them to raise their wages.

He also says the company’s starting wage of $27 per hour was a big reason they wanted to bring it to the Lowcountry.

“It just changes the trajectory of a family,” Cribb said. “It makes college a possibility where it would of otherwise wouldn’t have been. It makes moving out of a house where three kids are sharing one room.”

Redwood Materials’ investment also allows Berkeley County to fund a $125 million project to widen Highway 176 to four lanes from Jedburg Road to Volvo Car Drive.

Over the course of the 30-year deal with the company, Cribb said the county will collect a minimum of $9 million when the company hits their investment, making them the second-largest taxpayer in the county.

The company said they are planning to break ground on the facility in the next few months. Operations at the facility are expected to begin in 2023.