With growing evidence that 2015 will be a competitive year in the manufacturing industry, three Southern states are vying to acquire a new Volvo manufacturing plant. In the face of declining sales, the Swedish auto manufacturer has decided to double down its production efforts in North America, speculating for a plant in either South Carolina, Kentucky or North Carolina. Lawmakers in each state are rushing to court the company to their backyards.
Such a plant would be unprecedented for North Carolina, where there are currently no auto manufacturing sites, according to Manufacturing.net. Nevertheless, the state has decided to enter the fray by submitting a handful of potential locations for Volvo to explore. By comparison, the site reports that Kentucky has a number of existing operations and a "large automotive workforce," with two potential sites up for review. In South Carolina, BMW has operated production for more than 20 years, while Jaguar Land Rover has also considered space in the Palmetto State.
BMW's influence in South Carolina and other areas of the country has been credited with a resurgence in apprenticeship programs in factories, one of the key areas of focus for manufacturing companies to grow their workforces and attract talent from the next generation of professionals. Politically, lawmakers have rolled out $35 million in funding for a manufacturing training facility, as well as investing in infrastructure projects that could make transit to manufacturing sites easier.
"We didn't just do that for our health," Rep. Chip Limehouse told The State. "We're setting the table."
With several competitors for the Volvo contract, it should be determined this year which state emerges victorious. An operation of that size could invigorate the manufacturing economy of whichever home it selects.