In 1992, South Carolina reached a milestone in economic development when German luxury automaker BMW announced it would build a $2.2 billion assembly plant on 1,039 acres of farmland along Interstate 85 in Spartanburg.
The plant, which opened in 1994, originally employed 2,000 workers. It has expanded continually since then as new product lines were introduced. It now has a workforce of more than 10,000 employees.
Last year, BMW christened its fifth expansion in 20 years – a $1 billion investment that doubled the capacity of the plant. The expansion was needed to increase production of crossover SUVs.
The Upstate plant can now produce up to 450,000 vehicles a year. The investment added 800 jobs, bringing the total workforce to 8,800.
A 2014 study by the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business placed BMW’s annual economic impact, directly and indirectly, at $16.6 billion. Also, the study showed the plant supports 30,777 jobs in South Carolina.
Now, BMW is being be joined by a Volvo plant near Ridgeland in Berkeley County that in 2018 will begin turning out SUVs, and a Mercedes-Benz plant in North Charleston that will produce vans.
About this series: The inaugural edition of The State newspaper was published Feb. 18, 1891. In anticipation of the 125th anniversary, the Palmetto section and this section at thestate.com are recounting each day how The State covered newsmakers and events vital to South Carolina’s history.