Volvo Cars chooses Berkeley County for first U.S. plant

Governor says location and workforce convinced Volvo to build car assembly plant in Berkeley County

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Volvo Cars announced formally Monday morning it has chosen Berkeley County for the location of its first United States factory.

The Swedish automotive manufacturer will invest $500 million in building a factory in Berkeley County, South Carolina, just outside of Charleston. The plant, which will produce the latest generation of Volvo models, will have a capacity to initially build up to 100,000 cars per year, according to a press release from Volvo.

The new factory is expected to create up to 2,000 jobs within the next decade and 4,000 jobs by 2030.

At a morning press conference at the governor's mansion, officials said Volvo chose the Commerce Hill Park near Ridgeville in part because of its close proximity to I-26 and the Port of Charleston.

Governor Nikki Haley said the automaker also was impressed with our workforce.

"What they knew was if we build it, we build it well and we build it with quality and we build it with loyalty, and we build it with pride and that's something you just can't find anywhere," Haley said.

"It means changing that part of the county and providing better service there and provide opportunities for employment. It's going to change that area in its entirety," Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler said.

South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt noted Volvo will occupy one one-third of the industrial park and will be the anchor tenant.

"We will build an industrial town along Interstate 26 and populate it with 4,000 people over time," Hitt said.

Construction on the Berkeley County plant will begin in early autumn 2015, with the first vehicles expected to roll out the factory in 2018.

Volvo officials say the decision to build its first American plant in Berkeley County was made due to "its easy access to international ports and infrastructure, a well-trained labor force, attractive investment environment and experience in the high tech manufacturing sector."

"We're excited to build our first American factory in South Carolina and we look forward to helping grow the local community and economy." said Lex Kerssemakers, President and CEO of Volvo Cars of North America, in a statement. "We were impressed with the friendliness, work ethic and passion of the people in the Charleston area."

The announcement is a major boost to the job market in South Carolina.

According to a press release, Volvo estimates the factory will employ up to 2,000 people over the next decade, and up to 4,000 people in the longer term.

The plant is projected to contribute approximately $4.8 billion in total economic output each year, the press release states.

South Carolina beat out Savannah, Georgia and other sites at the location for the new Volvo plant. Georgia officials learned Friday that their state was no longer in the running.

Volvo Cars will become the third European automaker in the state. BMW opened its first U.S. plant in Greer, S.C. in 1994, and Mercedes-Benz announced last month it is expanding its Ladson manufacturing plant for the production of Sprinter vehicles.

Volvo Cars is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group of China.

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