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Volvo chooses SC over Bryan County

Bryan County’s loss is the Charleston, South Carolina area’s gain.

After a weekend of media reports citing sources saying that Volvo had chosen South Carolina over Georgia for its first American plant, the luxury carmaker made it official with an announcement Monday morning.

“Volvo Cars has chosen Berkeley County, South Carolina, as the location of its first American factory, investing up to $500 million in a facility with a capacity to initially produce up to 100,000 cars per year,” a Volvo news release issued Monday morning begins.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported Friday evening that sources with knowledge of Volvo’s decision had chosen Berkeley County, which is in the suburbs of Charleston. Other media outlets in Georgia and South Carolina followed, largely supporting that report.

The Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Joint Corridor Development Authority applied last month to the Army Corps of Engineers and the state for permission to build a 1,900-acre “megasite” at Interstate 16 and Highway 280 in Black Creek.

That fueled speculation the move was part of Georgia’s bid to land Volvo plant. That speculation only increased as many local economic-development officials and elected officials repeatedly issued “no comment” in response to questions about the megasite application.

The Swedish-based, Chinese-owned car maker announced in late March that it would spend $500 million to build a manufacturing facility in the U.S., and the AJC and several other newspapers throughout the region began to report that Volvo is considering both the Georgia coast and South Carolina for the site.

In addition, Georgia lawmakers recently approved more than $17 million to build a manufacturing training center in Pooler that some said was part of the state’s bid to bring Volvo to Georgia.

The application to the Savannah District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was filed by the Joint Development Authority’s Hugh “Trip” Tollison through agent Alton Brown Jr. of Resource and Land Consultants.

The Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Joint Corridor Development Authority was formed in January and includes representatives from Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham counties.

At the time, officials said it was formed at least in part to capitalize on the Savannah Harbor deepening while also combing regional resources to help its member counties work together on projects of regional impact.

Construction on the Berkeley County plant will begin in early autumn, with the first vehicles expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018, Volvo said in its release.

Volvo already operates two plants in Europe and two in China. The new U.S. will be the company’s first in North America.

“This new global-industrial footprint and a complete product renewal forms the foundation for our growth and profitability targets,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Car Corporation, in the news release.

Volvo began importing cars to the U.S. in 1955.

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