A Canadian company that was lured to South Carolina with incentives worth $17 million has opened its manufacturing facility in Orangeburg, bringing new jobs and business for the Port of Charleston.
Innovative Composites International, Inc. will manufacture affordable housing systems at the 126,000-square-foot facility, primarily for shipment to overseas locations.
“Out of Orangeburg we’ll be shipping low-cost efficient housing systems that will go into some mining locations, and for disaster relief,” said CEO Terry Ball. “The reason we’re in this area is the strong port and the ability to ship efficiently.”
“We’ve been down to the port, talked to the (state ports) authority, and laid out a plan,” he said. “They were very organized and very helpful.”
The ICI facility is expected to produce about 5 million square feet of affordable housing yearly once it is running at full capacity. Currently, about 25 people work at the facility, producing components for about five modular homes weekly,
The company’s EcoScape modular housing uses foam-core structural panels reinforced with a thermoplastic fibre-reinforced skin. The company says the largely recycled material uses no wood, and is impervious to water and impact resistant.
According to ICI, 16 EcoScape shelters that would be 8-by-16-feet when assembled can be shipped in a single 40-foot container, and assembled on-site with only a screwdriver.
Ball said components for a nearly 1,000-square-foot house would also fit in one shipping container.
The company last year announced it has signed agreements worth $228 million to supply modular housing to Haiti, Ghana and Brazil. Commercial shipments of the modular homes produced in South Carolina are expected to begin in May.
“All of the initial work that we do, the first few thousand houses, will come out of Orangeburg,” Ball said.
ICI has a 5-year lease for the former DANA building in the Orangeburg Industrial Park.
The company will invest $9.3 million in South Carolina, according to the state Department of Commerce,
“We are not only adding a solid manufacturing firm to our state with this announcement, we are also strengthening our ties with our foreign trading partners,” Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said in September when the deal was first announced.
A plant-opening ceremony with Gov. Nikki Haley is scheduled for Thursday.
Ball said the company expects to be hiring for manufacturing, production and office jobs in August or September, and the facility should eventually employ about 320 people. He said applicants should contact the Orangeburg County Economic Development Commission.
The company does not sell home components to individuals, but Ball said a North American “cold weather” model is being developed and might be sold through distributors.
In the United States, ICI is a so-called penny stock company that trades on the over the counter “pink sheet” exchange under the stock symbol ICIZF. The company’s stock closed at just under 63 cents a share Monday.