Georgia, Southern states making run for Volvo factory

This could go down in economic development circles as Georgia’s year of the car.

Georgia and other Southern rivals are angling to land auto plants from not only Jaguar Land Rover, but also from Swedish giant Volvo.

Multiple people with knowledge have previously confirmed Georgia’s play for Jaguar Land Rover. Another person with direct knowledge told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the state also is wooing Volvo.

The news comes as South Carolina media reported that Daimler AG rejected Georgia’s coastal mega-site near Pooler for a manufacturing plant.

Gov. Nathan Deal has certainly been making behind-the-scenes moves to roll out the welcome mat for a big manufacturing fish.

The governor’s midyear budget plan, which he signed into law last month, pumps tens of millions of new dollars into grant programs the state uses to seal deals with corporate prospects. He’s also backing legislation that could steer more state business to automakers with Georgia factories.

And recently he told a key farmers group their resistance last year to his still-pending plan to alter an independent state environmental agency could have jeopardized “the largest economic development project in the state since 2006.”

That was the same year Georgia landed one of its biggest ever coups — the Kia Motors plant and thousands of manufacturing jobs.

South Carolina is also said to be in the running for the Volvo deal. And S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley reportedly is on a secretive economic development trip, not unlike a one that Deal took earlier this year.

In the case of the Jaguar Land Rover plant, the company is reportedly weighing the American South with other countries, including Turkey and Austria. The luxury automaker might be favoring a site in Europe over North America.

Automakers have launched a number of new manufacturing plants, expansions or corporate headquarters moves in recent months. A report said on Friday, Daimler AG, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, is expected to announce an expansion of its Sprinter van factory in South Carolina. The company reportedly considered the Pooler mega-site near Savannah.

Mercedes recently announced the move of its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey to metro Atlanta. Porsche is expected to soon fully open its new North American hub near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

That list doesn’t include movements abroad. Jaguar Land Rover also recently opened a factory in China, is adding production in the United Kingdom and is building another factory in Brazil.

U.S. automaking has shifted south for decades, thanks in no small part to lower business costs, a largely non-unionized workforce and generous incentives.

Manufacturing centers — auto plants in particular — are coveted for the jobs they create and the potential for thousands more at suppliers.

Incentives for Kia, which built a plant in West Point near the Alabama border, totaled more than $195,000 per job in grants, tax breaks and other perks, according to an AJC analysis. Baxter International got an incentive package valued at more than $140,000 per job when it picked the Social Circle area east of Atlanta for a new bioscience plant.

By comparison, Mercedes-Benz was offered a package totaling about $28,750 per job for its recent U.S. headquarters move to Sandy Springs.

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