While Nikki Haley might not have an obvious background in diplomacy, the S.C. governor has plenty of overseas experience.
6 years, 7 counties, 8 trips
In her six years in the Governor’s Mansion, Haley has traveled to seven countries on eight separate occasions to promote the state and attract new business, according to the S.C. Commerce Department.
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Haley’s trips span the globe, from Canada to India to Japan. She’s been to Europe several times, including three visits to German automakers from 2011 to 2015.
$13 billion invested, 30,000 jobs
Those trips resulted in foreign manufacturers opening manufacturing plants in the Palmetto State, including German-based Continental in Sumter County, Singapore-based Giti in Chester County, Swedish-based Volvo in Berkeley County, and German-based Mercedes in Charleston County. German-based BMW and French-based Michelin also expanded their already existing S.C. operations.
In all, overseas investment under the Haley Administration has added up to more than $13 billion and 30,000 jobs, said state Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. “Since 2011, nearly 200 companies from more than 30 countries have announced economic development projects in South Carolina.”
Personal touch, international reputation
Those foreign companies that have made the move to South Carolina say the decision was due, in no small part, to Haley’s active involvement.
“Nikki Haley stood out above all the government officials we dealt with as one of the most impressive,” said Tim Rogers, vice president of finance at Continental Tire the Americas. “She’s, by far, the most personable. She’s able to relate to people in all sincerity, not like a politician.”
It also helped that South Carolina has developed a reputation as being a state for international manufacturers to locate.
“If you look at the Upstate, especially, there are companies there from France, Germany, Italy,” Rogers said. “South Carolina is known as a place to invest internationally.”
Daughter of immigrants understands different perspectives
Giti Tire had a similar experience when its officials visited South Carolina, said Julianto Djajadi, Giti North America’s executive VP for business operations.
Djajadi said Giti’s foreign executives were at ease dealing with Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants. They felt she had a “greater understanding and appreciation” for international actors.
“Because her parents are immigrants and the diversity of the United States, she can see things from many different perspectives.”