Volvo’s S.C. plant initially will employ 500 more workers than the company has promised publicly.
Traffic at the Berkeley County location also could be tougher than anticipated.
Volvo publicly has announced plans to invest $500 million and create 2,000 jobs at the plant over the next decade. However, the company’s investment and jobs could be larger.
In April letters endorsing the Volvo deal, House and Senate leaders said the company had pledged to spend $600 million and create 2,500 jobs, a number expected to grow to 4,000 over time.
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4,000 jobs Expected at the Berkeley County Volvo plant by 2030
However, the Interstate 26 interchange planned for the site of the new Volvo plant will not be completed until after that facility is producing automobiles, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce.
The interchange, which would be Exit 189, is expected to be built in the second quarter of 2019. It will serve the facility as its production increases, according to Commerce.
Volvo Cars Corp. plans to begin construction on the plant this fall. It expects to produce its first S.C.-made vehicles in 2018. The company has not yet announced which model will be built in Berkeley County, its first U.S. plant.
The state agency received $70 million from S.C. lawmakers in the state budget that took effect July 1 to help pay the cost of Volvo incentives. That money is part of more than $200 million in incentives offered to the Swedish-based, Chinese-owned automaker from Commerce and other S.C. entities, including Berkeley County and state-owned Santee Cooper utility.
The Commerce Department received approval from a panel of S.C. lawmakers last month to borrow up to $123 million to pay for incentives promised to Volvo through economic development bonds.
Gov. Nikki Haley pushed for that borrowing, saying the automaker did not want its incentives become a political issue.
But lawmakers criticized the accounting maneuvers necessary to borrow that much, saying the borrowing plan included seven years of interest-only payments and would cost S.C. taxpayers $87 million in interest.
As a result, legislators voted to use $70 million in state surplus money for some of the incentives. That leaves roughly $53 million to be borrowed for Volvo through economic development bonds.
Commerce said it is working with the S.C. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and Berkeley County to plan road improvements for the Volvo site, called Camp Hall. Volvo’s plant will take up about a third of the 6,800-acre Camp Hall site.
That process is ongoing and specific timelines and costs are not yet determined.
Genevieve McGroarty, S.C. Department of Commerce
Berkeley County has authorized the Thomas & Hutton engineering firm to begin design work on Centerline Road, currently a dirt road bisecting the Camp Hall site, that will be paved and widened to three lanes for the plant, said Berkeley County spokesman Michael Mule.
“The initial plans would call for Centerline Road to become a main thoroughfare,” Mule said.
Other intersection and road improvements include upgrades to intersections on Centerline Road and to the existing Exit 187 interchange of Interstate 26 at S.C. 27.
Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.