Trane confirms AC plant headed to Blythewood - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Trane confirms AC plant headed to Blythewood

(Blythewood) Feb. 6, 2003 - The Blythewood area of northern Richland County has historically been known as a place away from the city. A place with space, for better or for worse, like the old Ambac Diesel Fuel Plant that's been vacant.

American Standard Companies, of Piscataway, New Jersey, plans to put a Trane air conditioning plant in a former auto parts factory near Interstate 77. Ronald Clements, vice-president at Trane, made the big announcement on Wednesday, "This is what the real estate people call a fixer-upper opportunity."

Clements says Trane Air Conditioning will give the plant a $30 million facelift to manufacture air conditioning parts, bringing in 400 jobs over five years, "We will create something that the Trane Company and Columbia is very proud of."

Trane spokeswoman Lisa Glover says Columbia offers an educated workforce and Blythewood offers proximity to I-77, "We know we can have this part at six of our manufacturing plants within a days drive."

The factory, formerly owned by Ambac Industries Incorporated, has sat vacant since September. The $30 million facility has more than 300,000 square feet of space and could employ 400 workers in five years. Ambac moved its 100-employee diesel fuel systems operation to a smaller plant near Pontiac.

Richland County Administrator Cary McSwain says Blythewood's location is attractive to a growing number of industries, "As you bring in jobs, people making more money to spend, commercial opportunities, some people call it trickle down."

Blythewood House of Pizza owner Dewayne Street has already seen a slice of industrial growth in his profits, "A lot of increased business. We pretty much fill up the restaurant at lunch time."

Not everyone is eating it up. Mike Watts' family has lived in Blythewood for six generations, "I believe they're going to get a majority of the research downtown and we're going to be stuck with the manufacturing." He doesn't want a new Blythewood, even while industries like Trane bring in new jobs and new consumers, "The sanctity of being in a rural area is that you're away from all of these things."

The South Carolina Job Service will be on hand at the plant itself accepting applications next week The Job Service number is 803-737-9999. One-hundred of the 400 jobs are expected to open up immediately  

By Megan Hughes
Updated 8:24am by Chris Rees

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