Victoria Cottle

Victoria Cottle

Proterra-trims-jobs-estimate

Proterra, the innovative electric bus manufacturer that came to Greenville and bolstered the region’s growing cluster of automotive-related industries, says it has reduced its job-creation projections.When it made its decision to come to Greenville, Proterra announced plans for 1,300 jobs over seven years and a $30 million manufacturing facility at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research.Now, the company is promising the state Commerce Department that it will create 400 jobs over five years and spend $16 million on equipment and building improvements at its current location in the former Orders Distributing Co. warehouse along Interstate 85, said Marc Gottschalk, Proterra’s chief business development officer and general counsel.Commerce Department spokeswoman Amy Love confirmed changes to Proterra’s incentives deal with the state. The revisions mean Proterra is eligible for a lesser amount of tax credits that the state offers companies for job creation, but it can claim the credits more quickly, Gottschalk said.“We think it’s safer and more conservative to be able to have lower targets and be able to get the incentives sooner,” Gottschalk said.He said Proterra has been learning lean manufacturing techniques from one of its new investors, the venture capital arm of General Motors, and realizes it can do more at its current location than originally thought.“We’re a young company,” he said. “We’re learning as we go.”Proterra now has more than 100 employees and should have around 150 by the end of the year, Gottschalk said. He said the startup company has sold 12 of its zero-emission, battery-powered transit buses.Gottschalk said Proterra has increased its parts and materials purchases in South Carolina from zero to 30 percent and now works with 75 vendors in the state.“We’re spending a lot of money in South Carolina and creating a number of jobs, not just within the walls of our plant,” he said.Earlier, Proterra secured a $30 million cash infusion from: Kleiner Perkins, a California venture capital firm; GM Ventures, the venture capital arm of General Motors Co.; Mitsui & Co. Ltd, a Japanese industrial conglomerate; and other companies.David Bennett, Proterra’s chief executive, couldn’t be reached for comment.He told GreenvilleOnline.com in October that the company had put off its plans for the new plant at ICAR.

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