Volvo Creates Land Rush in South Carolina

With daily progress being made toward the completion of Volvo Car USA’s new plant in Berkeley County, South Carolina, attention now turns to the economic opportunities sure to arise from 100, 000 Volvos per year rolling out the doors.

Lawmakers in neighboring Orangeburg County, with its confluence of two major highways and rail access, are particularly looking for ways to connect to Volvo’s first American factory.

The $500 million plant will be about 20 miles from Interstate 95 and 35 miles from the more than 1, 000-acre Jafza Magna Park industrial site. South Carolina lawmakers have introduced legislation to use land around Interstates 95 and 26 as a cargo distribution hub for the Port of Charleston. South Carolina already has one inland port in Greer and is developing a second in Dillon on the I-95 corridor.

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An August economic summit in Orangeburg County drew more than a few company representatives interested in hearing about supplier updates relating to Volvo. 

As manufacturing gears down in China, developments like Volvo’s arrival are a great opportunity for the entire Southeast, South Carolina Ports Authority President Jim Newsome told summit attendees, as reported by the Times and Democrat newspaper. “The more business that we can attract here, the better we are as a port.”

Upon opening, the Berkeley County Volvo factory will be the global production home for the S60 Sedan, now under development at Volvo Group headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden. American-built S60s and other future models will be exported around the world through the Port of Charleston. 

The first South Carolina-built Volvos are expected to roll off the assembly line in late 2018. Even before that happens, Newsome notes Charleston port volume has grown 43 percent in the past five years, making it one of the fastest growing ports in the United States.

Volvo Car USA estimates that the factory will employ up to 2, 000 people over the next decade and, eventually, as many as 4, 000. An economic impact analysis by College of Charleston economics Professor Frank Hefner estimates that from the 2, 000 direct jobs, more than 8, 000 total jobs would be created. Incentives from the state, county and a state-owned electric utility have been estimated at $200 million.

Currently, the plant’s annual total economic output is estimated at $4.8 billion. 

Text by Dave Helms

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