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The Volvo Sweepstakes Are On




|| By FITSNEWS ||  Georgia and South Carolina are battling furiously to land a Volvo automotive manufacturing facility – with sites in Savannah, Georgia and Berkeley County, S.C. vying for the 4,000 jobs and $500 million in investment attached to the proposed plant.

In fact the governors of both states – Georgia’s Nathan Deal and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley – traveled to the company’s North American headquarters in New Jersey this week to make their closing arguments.

“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” Deal told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re glad that we created an environment where we’re known as business-friendly.”

Deal added that he wasn’t worried about getting involved in a taxpayer-subsidized bidding war with the Palmetto State (which may actually be in the midst of a bidding war with itself).

“Governor Haley is a good friend of mine,” he said.  “We’re competitive on many, many projects. South Carolina is a competitive state.  We’re accustomed to the rough-and-tumble that’s associated with trying to lure people coming to this state.”

Oddly enough, Haley gift-wrapped a huge competitive advantage for Georgia back in 2011 when her appointees to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) overturned an agency decision to deny environmental permitting for Savannah’s government-funded harbor expansion plan.

Haley told her appointees to reverse the agency’s decision after receiving a boatload of cash from Savannah port interests – as well as a promised prime time speaking slot at the 2012 “Republican” national convention (from the Georgia Ports Authority’s leader).

Will that decision come back to bite her?  Well … bite her more than it already has?

Or … would it actually be better for South Carolina to lose this “economic development” battle?

After all, our state’s long-running strategy of bribing companies to locate here has been a miserable failure.   Our labor force remains among the nation’s smallest (and dumbest) – and our income levels remain among the nation’s lowest.

In what universe is that “economic development?”

A Swedish-based company, Volvo was purchased by Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group – owned by billionaire Li Shufu – for $1.8 billion in 2010. The seller? Ford – which had acquired the company for $6.4 billion in 1999.

For those of you keeping score at home, Shufu has a net worth of $3.3 billion – meaning he’s got more than enough cash to build his own damn manufacturing facility (in either Georgia or South Carolina).

Volvo sold 465,866 cars in 2014 (a new record), and hopes to sell 800,000 by 2020.  Of course its U.S. sales fell by seven percent last year – with strong Chinese sales growth driving the uptick.