The company said in a press release that it picked South Carolina because of its access to ports and infrastructure, workforce and experience in the high-tech manufacturing sector.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday that the automaker informed officials in Georgia that the Swedish automaker was looking elsewhere, leaving South Carolina as the only known finalist for the plant. Disappointed Georgia honchos spent the next days wondering what – if anything – more they could have done to land the plant.
Georgia’s attempt to lure Volvo’s first U.S. auto plant involved secret recruiting trips, legislation to clear the way for the deal, a united political front and likely the largest economic development package the state has ever offered.
South Carolina was said to offer an even sweeter bounty of incentives, though details of both packages were not immediately known. Both states also offered giant tracts of land with ready access to ports, highways and rail lines.
Volvo’s plant will eventually bring as many as 4,000 jobs to the Charleston area, as well as thousands more gigs spawned by suppliers and other related industries. South Carolina state Rep. Joe Jefferson told The State newspaper that he was informed shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday the plant was coming to a sprawling site about 40 miles northwest of downtown Charleston.
“It’s a boon for us,” Jefferson told the newspaper. “We got plenty of jobs around (Charleston), but we needed some momentum heading more westward, something in rural areas.”
The soul-searching for Georgia officials, meanwhile, has already begun. Some were looking for a bright side in the Volvo snub, including the hope that it could free up more resources for the next big pitch. Others saw it as a gut-check moment. Tom Bordeaux, a Savannah city alderman and former state lawmaker, said Volvo would have added “extra horsepower” to southeast Georgia’s economy.
“We have to figure out how we could have been inadequate,” he said, “because I was under the impression that we were offering some remarkable incentives.”