The president of Jushi USA said Monday the company has no plans to pull out of building its first American plant in Richland County despite potential delays in extending Shop Road to the project’s Pineview Industrial Park site.
“No, we won’t be doing that,” president Drew Walker told The State on Monday. “Our commitment is to build a plant in the United States, in Richland County, in Columbia.”
The $24.5-million project to build the one-mile Shop Road extension was already two months behind schedule when the the project’s low bidder, Richardson Construction, filed for a temporary restraining order before Christmas over the bidding process. The request for the temporary restraining order was denied.
The State newspaper reported Sunday that the county voted late last year to award the contract to the highest bidder, McClam & Associates.
In opposing the restraining order, attorneys for Richland County said that delays could cause Jushi to pull the project, which includes a $300 million investment and an initial 400 jobs. A second phase of the project would build an identical plant adding another 400 jobs, making it the biggest economic development announcement in the county since Union Camp in the 1980s.
But Walker said the company is prepared to work with the county on delays.
“Any delay is an inconvenience,” he said. “But at this stage, is if there is a delay, it will be resolved quickly and amicably.”
Jushi USA’s parent company, China Jushi, is headquartered in Zhejing, China. Ground was broken for the 80,000-ton production line on Dec. 8.
The company is a leading supplier of fiberglass reinforcements and fabrics to the reinforced plastics industry worldwide. As functional or structural materials, they can be used to manufacture a wide variety of products such as pipes, pressure vessels, chemical tanks, sanitary apparatus, electrical equipment, environment protection equipment, wind energy equipment, boat hulls, automobile parts and sports equipment.
The new Richland County production line is designed to supplement the growing composite material industry in the United States. Walker said construction of the plant is scheduled to begin in April with completion of Phase One set for the end of 2018.
The county has promised it would have the road completed by Dec. 31, 2017, although a date for starting that construction has not been released.
“I have every confidence in the county” to complete the road on time or with minimal delays, he said.