Volvo spokesman Jim Nichols said in an email Friday that there has been a “lot of speculation” about the company’s plans for a U.S. factory, “but we look forward to an announcement soon.”
At least then, somebody who knows something will be talking.
Otherwise, mum’s been the official word since it got out that the four-month-old Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Joint Corridor Development Authority applied to the Army Corps of Engineers and the state for permission to build a 1,900-acre “megasite” at Interstate 16 and Highway 280.
That site is widely believed — or speculated — to be one of two areas being eyed by Volvo for its first U.S. plant.
The other is in the Charleston area, according to South Carolina newspaper reports.
And recent actions by the new regional development authority haven’t helped end the speculation, including a litany of “no comments” from many of those at a Monday-morning meeting in Black Creek that consisted of exactly one minute of open meeting, then an hour-long executive session to discuss real-estate, then adjournment.
While unfailingly polite, neither local member of the joint authority — County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed, who also is chairman of the new authority, and Development Authority of Bryan County Chairman Derrick Smith — would say anything about the project, the meeting or Volvo.
Nor would Bryan County Commissioner Noah Covington, whose district includes Black Creek; County Administrator Ben Taylor; DABC CEO Anna Chafin or anybody else from Bryan present at Monday’s meeting.
Meaning when it comes to megasites and Volvo, “no comment” currently reigns supreme among those who might know.
Similarly, it’s unclear whether a called meeting of the DABC set for 7:30 a.m. Thursday has anything to do with the proposed megasite. The only item on an agenda provided Tuesday afternoon was an executive session to discuss real estate.
But at least there’s good reason for all the speculation.
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 Atlanta Journal-Constitution is among several state and regional newspapers 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 have said is 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.
Maps included with the application and available on bryancountynews.com show that the 1,900-acre site is directly across I-16 from the Interstate Centre.
The manufacturing site would reportedly provide about 4,000 jobs and attract a number of related manufacturers.
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.