Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Volvo Car Corporation has selected Berkeley County, SC for its first manufacturing facility in the Western hemisphere. The new $500 million factory highlights the attraction of the U.S. as a location for high-technology manufacturing. The plant is expected to create 2,000 new jobs over the next decade and up to 4,000 jobs by 2030.
The new facility will have an initial estimated annual production capacity of around 100,000 cars. Located in northwestern Berkeley County on a portion of the Camp Hall site, the plant will manufacture latest-generation Volvo models for sale in the U.S. and for export. Construction will begin in early fall 2015, with the first vehicles expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018.
At the announcement, SC Gov. Nikki Haley said, “This is a landmark moment and truly a great day in SC as we welcome Volvo Cars’ first American manufacturing plant to our state. By bringing $500 million in new investment and 4,000 jobs to this community, Volvo’s presence and commitment to Berkeley County and the state will be felt for decades to come. We are proud to have this global leader in car manufacturing join and strengthen SC’s automotive industry.”
The new U.S. plant forms part of an ambitious medium-term expansion plan to double global sales, boost market share and lift profitability. Volvo began importing cars to the U.S. in 1955. With the development of an American factory, the company crosses an important threshold from an automotive importer to a domestic manufacturer.
Volvo Cars’ location decision was taken as a result of its easy access to international ports and infrastructure, a well-trained labor force, attractive investment environment and experience in the high-tech manufacturing sector. In the broader scope, Volvo Cars’ selection of the Palmetto State underlines the success of SC’s robust automobile industry. Today, the state is home to more than 250 automotive-related companies and suppliers and, as a result, leads the nation in the export of both tires and automobiles.
“We’re excited to build our first American factory in SC and we look forward to helping grow the local community and economy. We were impressed with the friendliness, work ethic and passion of the people in the Charleston area,” said Volvo Cars of North America President and CEO Lex Kerssemakers.
With this announcement, SC’s strong auto industry looks to get even stronger. An economic impact analysis compiled by Dr. Frank Hefner at the College of Charleston estimates that, for an initial 2,000 direct jobs, more than 8,000 total jobs would be created as a result. Operating with 2,000 employees, the plant would contribute approximately $4.8 billion in total economic output on an annual basis.
“Volvo Cars is a world-class manufacturer whose choice of Berkeley County signals a sea change for this community. This decision reflects well on an unprecedented partnership of local and state officials, the South Carolina Power Team and Edisto and Berkeley electric cooperatives, who pulled together for the greater benefit of all. For our part, Santee Cooper is committed to building on this investment for decades to come, to maximize opportunities for Volvo, the people who will work there and the additional development that will follow and transform this corner of South Carolina,” stated Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter.
Additionally, the development of the Camp Hall site will lead to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands in a critical, neighboring watershed that is a priority of Audubon South Carolina.