COLUMBIA, SC A Canadian corporation is considering development of a 300-job aluminum foundry and automotive components plant near Blythewood off Interstate 77.
Linamar Inc., headquartered near Toronto, also would acquire the existing Pure Power Technologies plant in Richland County as part of the plan to establish the foundry nearby, Linamar chief operating officer Jim Jarrell said Friday.
The Linamar foundry would be owned jointly with GF Automotive, a Swiss automobile industry supplier.
Plans aren’t final, however. The company also is looking at a site near Asheville, N.C., where Linamar already has a facility. The company is weighing incentive packages from both Carolinas and should make a decision by Christmas, Jarrell said.
“Both states have rolled out the red carpet to us,’’ Jarrell told The State newspaper. He said the investment in a Carolinas’ site would top $100 million.
Officials with the S.C. Department of Commerce and Pure Power declined comment this week.
Paul Livingston, who chairs Richland County Council’s economic development committee, said he’s aware of an incentives package under discussion for the Blythewood area. But he said he did not know the name of the company. The county’s economic development office is heading the effort, he said.
“Jobs for our community, particularly good quality jobs, would be a great thing,’’ Livingston said.
Linamar and GF Automotive jointly announced last summer that they were looking for a spot in the southeastern United States for a “high pressure, light metal die-casting plant.’’ The July news release did not specify a location, but said the companies hoped to begin operating the facility in 2017.
Jarrell said developing the Blythewood property for a foundry is attractive because of the nearby Pure Power Technologies manufacturing plant the company also wants to acquire. Maps of the area indicate the foundry would be on about 150 acres near Westwood High School.
Pure Power, which makes automobile fuel injectors and employs more than 200 people, would eventually be used as a finishing plant for automobile components made at the Linamar-GF Automotive foundry, according to plans.
The proximity of Pure Power to the foundry would help the company avoid the expense of shipping parts hundreds of miles to a finishing plant, he said. Jarrell noted that Pure Power already has a skilled labor force that would be valuable to Linamar’s long-term plans.
“Really, the idea is to let us maintain those jobs,’’ he said.
Linamar, founded in 1966, is a publicly traded company with 19,500 employees worldwide. It operates 48 plants around the world. In 2014, it had sales of $4.2 billion, according to the company’s website. It manufactures precision metallic products for automobile power train systems, as well as other products.
GF Automotive, a division of the 200-year-old Georg Fischer Corp., is one of the leading automotive suppliers worldwide and specializes in lightweight solutions for the automotive industry, the company’s website says. The company says it produces more than 600,000 tons of iron, aluminum and magnesium components at nine production plants in Germany, Austria and China. The company has nearly 5,000 employees.
Pure Power, a division of the Navistar International Corp., received praise from the White House in 2012 for its efforts to provide jobs and protect the environment. White House Council on Environmental Quality chairwoman Nancy Sutley toured the plant with U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.
Jarrell said his company is committed to environmental protection, and the foundry will be operated cleanly. The Linamar-GF Automotive foundry likely would need an air permit from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to discharge pollution. The foundry process involves melting aluminum scrap or ingots, then injecting the hot metal into precast dies. The product would then be sent to Pure Power for finishing, according to plans.
Bob Guild, a lawyer for the state Sierra Club, said he was unfamiliar with the Linamar plan, but it would be important for DHEC to properly permit and monitor the operation.