BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCIV) – Volvo Cars announced Monday morning that it has chosen Berkeley County as the home for its first American factory.
Volvo officials say the $500 million facility will produce up to 100,000 cars per year, and could create up to 4,000 jobs in the area in the coming years.
Construction on the facility is set to begin in fall 2015, with the first vehicles expected off the assembly line in 2018.
“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 prepared statement. “We were impressed with the friendliness, work ethic and passion of the people in the Charleston area.”
Volvo says it chose Berkeley County because 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.”
Volvo says the factory will employ about 2,000 people in the immediate future, and could expand to 4,000 people in the long term. Dr. Frank Hefner of the College of Charleston estimates that, all told, the plant locating here could create as many as 8,000 total jobs and contribute approximately $4.8 billion per year to the local economy.
“This is a landmark moment and truly a great day in South Carolina as we welcome Volvo Cars’ first American manufacturing plant to our state,” said South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. “Volvo’s presence and commitment to the community will be felt for decades to come. We are proud to have this global leader in car manufacturing join and strengthen South Carolina’s automotive industry.”
According to Monday’s press release, readySC™, a division of the S.C. Technical College System, is assisting with the recruitment and training for positions at the new plant.
Officials with Gov. Nikki Haley’s office confirmed the plant will be located in northwestern Berkeley County on a portion of the Camp Hall site, an area of the count some people described as depressed and in need of a big economic boost. But some people wonder what kind of impact if will have on traffic and infrastructure in Ridgeville.
Terry Tracy says he welcomes Volvo to the small town, but he isn’t so keen on the rush hour traffic and big development.
“It is a good place to ride out here in the country. I moved from Ashley Phosphate. It was pretty crowded, and getting hectic,” he said.
So he moved to the tiny town of Ridgeville for some peace and quiet. Now his small town home will sit just miles from a massive Volvo plant and thousands of jobs.
“I got pretty excited. This place out here could use some jobs, you know? Good ones. Like Boeing, something that’s going to help the community,” Terry said.
Harold Fitzgerald, who owns two acres of land that back up to the new Volvo property, is also excited.
“The area is depressed. Poor people. It’ll help the economy out a lot if people get work and have a chance to make a little money and improve their life,” he said.
But with more jobs comes more drivers. It’s a trade-off some say they are willing to make. Fitzergerald says it won’t be any worse that Summerville’s current traffic, something he describes as bumper-to-bumper.
“Yes, we want the jobs, yes we want to help the people but do it right,” he said. “We don’t want congestion. We don’t want anybody hurt. We want it to be safe but we want it.”
Tracy says he’s worked in the automotive industry his entire career, and he plans to apply to Volvo once the company starts taking applications.
All information on hiring will be posted as available at the readySC portal, readysc.org/volvo/.