South Carolina approves bond package for Volvo

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Getty Images File image of a Volvo V40 automobile. The Swedish luxury auto company, which is owned by a Chinese conglomerate, plans a factory for SUVs in coastal South Carolina.

The state of South Carolina approved $123 million bonds for Volvo as part of the incentive package to lure the luxury automaker to the Palmetto State, the State newspaper reported Tuesday.

What’s interesting is what South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said would have happened if South Carolina leaders hadn’t approved the borrowing.

From the State:

Gov. Nikki Haley repeated that Volvo insisted on the state borrowing the money to avoid potential legislative turmoil.

“If we had not done it this way, they would have been in Georgia,” she said Tuesday referring to the other finalist for the auto plant. “We did what the company asked.”

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, right, views a model of Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, S.C. Haley and South Carolina officials successfully recruited Volvo to a site near Charleston. Photo by J. Scott Trubey/Staff

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, right, views a model of Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, S.C. Haley and South Carolina officials successfully recruited Volvo to a site near Charleston. Photo by J. Scott Trubey/Staff

South Carolina has been a key competitor with the Peach State in the battle for auto assembly plants, suppliers and tire companies.

The report outlines the $200 million-plus incentive package that helped South Carolina win the factory – and 2,000 jobs – over a site near Savannah.

The jobs total could climb by another 2,000 over time, Volvo officials have said.

From the State’s report:

The state Budget and Control Board unanimously approved issuing bonds to pay for site and road work associated with the $500 million, 2,000-employee plant scheduled to open in 2018 off Interstate 26. The automaker could add another 2,000 employees by 2030.

While landing the Volvo plant won widespread praise within the State House, the bonds have generated some controversy.

Issuing $123 million in bonds would cost the state an additional $87 million in interest. The bonds would be issued next year.

Georgia and South Carolina battled it out for the factory and the loss was a bitter pill to swallow for Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia’s economic development agency.

During a board meeting last month of the state Department of Economic Development, the agency’s head of global commerce likened the Volvo pursuit to being in a “championship game” that featured “lead changes” but didn’t break Georgia’s way.

Georgia officials have declined to release the state’s offer of incentives, citing the recruitment as being open. Georgia officials have declined to say much more about the recruitment effort because they consider the project to be ongoing in case Volvo runs into environmental roadblocks that could prompt it to reconsider.

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