Columbia -- Two companies looking at opening manufacturing facilities in Lexington County are pulling out amid the furor that followed the House's rejection of the sales tax incentive Amazon wanted to open a distribution center that would have brought 1,249 jobs to the Midlands.
Chicago-based Altgen is abandoning consideration of the area as home for a plant that would convert trash into biodiesel fuel for vehicles and electric production. The project was expected to bring about 200 jobs but could have required up to $20 million in incentives. "Our concern is you get incentives and get the commitment for it and the state changes the rules of the game," operations manager Chip Harriford said. "Our financiers are not willing to take that risk."
The legislative conflict over the tax break led Bloom Energy of San Francisco to suspend interest in mid-April in locating a fuel cell plant next to what was to be Amazon's home, county officials said. Bloom instead is expanding in its home area, adding up to 1,000 jobs, a company announcement says.
"When they saw what was going on, they decided they did not want to play in that environment," Councilman Bill Banning of West Columbia said.
Bloom Energy officials could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the Midlands' largest home builder has put on hold plans for more than 100 new dwellings in the Cayce-West Columbia area.
"We have several options in that area that we are going to have to back up and revisit," builder Stewart Mungo said after Amazon's distribution center plans were dropped Wednesday.
Those decisions are creating concern among county leaders that Amazon's loss makes their premier site for new industry a white elephant.
The 340-acre Saxe Gotha industrial park at Interstate 77 and 12th Street south of Cayce was created for warehouses and light manufacturing with large payrolls.
Amazon was to become the first tenant -- one whose reputation would be a magnet to attract more -- until state representatives' rejection of a five-year sales tax exemption on merchandise sold in South Carolina killed the deal.
"People are going to think twice about coming here," said Scott Adams of Lexington, a vice president at telecommunications equipment manufacturer Prysmian who was a leader of local efforts promoting Amazon's distribution center plans.