On a stroll through Charleston’s historic district, it can seem like little has changed in this South Carolina port city since the 17th century. Graceful old mansions still watch over the harbor, Spanish moss still drips from live oaks and horses still pull carts down cobblestone streets.
The latest addition is Volvo, which last year announced that it would spend $500 million to build its first U.S. factory in greater Charleston. The port helped, as did the city’s colleges, which offer programs specific to the manufacturers’ technical needs.
“The Port of Charleston has the size and depth of water we need, in addition to wonderful access via road and rail,” says Jim Nichols, a Volvo spokesman. “Plus, the Charleston workforce is already prepared for advanced manufacturing—we were able to partner with South Carolina’s technical college system to get workers ready in advance of the plant opening.”