The Volvo announcement is a great victory for our state. Gov. Nikki Haley, Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt and his staff, along with the Santee Cooper and Berkeley County teams, are to be commended for their hard work in winning this commitment from a world-class manufacturer.
Winning such projects takes not only hard work and coordinated teamwork but relationships that are fostered over time and a reputation as a state that provides the foundation for success. South Carolina has that reputation, for good reason.
Before any company invests millions of dollars in a plant and equipment, we have to demonstrate the availability of ideal property and excellent infrastructure, as well as a high-quality, skilled workforce. We are fortunate to have a workforce with a solid work ethic and the willingness to learn new trades. Volvo chose us because it all works in South Carolina, and now there is much to celebrate.
Charleston may get the headlines, but the real winner is the rural Berkeley County and neighboring counties in the I-95 region that is known as the “Corridor of Shame.” In an area dominated by high poverty and unemployment, the Volvo decision is monumental.
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The $500 million plant is expected to eventually employ up to 4,000 people. An economic analysis by the College of Charleston’s Frank Hefner projects that, operating with 2,000 employees in the first phase, the plant would contribute $4.8 billion in economic output on an annual basis. It also would support more than 8,000 total jobs in the region and contribute more than $72 million in state and local taxes.
The happiest days will occur thousands of times over when each new employee is hired in these high-paying jobs. Individuals will feel a sense of pride as their new job boosts their self-worth, which in turn helps stabilize families and strengthen our communities.
This sense of opportunity will motivate generations to come, as youth see a future locally instead of having to leave home. This is the case with all of the economic development announcements that create more jobs in our state.
In a larger sense, the Volvo announcement should provide encouragement and serve to empower other communities to know that they can also be in a “corridor that is now in the game.”
President, S.C. Economic Developers Association