Exit 108 I-95n in SC To: SC 102, near Summerton, SC
Foreign Investment is BIG business in South Carolina. Such companies as Michelin Tires, Fuji Film, Daimler Benz and BMW have made products in the Palmetto State. One such symbol is that BMW has had a production facility in Spartanburg County near Greenville since 1994. According to McClatchy Newspapers, 22% — almost 1 in 4 jobs in South Carolina — are supported by Foreign Trade and or investment.
In fact, there are roughly 2000 foreign-owned firms operating in South Carolina. They employ around 130,000 South Carolina citizens. In 2010, Foreign Direct Investment brought 1 billion dollars to the state economy. Since then it has only grown. So Attracting and supporting foreign direct investment is essential for this state’s economy.
But that does not mean the municipal leaders are resting on their laurels. In fact they may be worried. Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade and vowing to rip up international trade deals and stand up against foreign cheating to bring jobs back to Americans has played a large part in raising support from his Republican blue collar base. It clearly has resonated in South Carolina as well, where he won the presidential election over Hillary Clinton. But in a state that has heavily leveraged globalization into jobs, many are saying that if South Carolina looks backwards, it could harm the state’s economy. Says University of South Carolina economics professor William Hauk, explaining how the state “was hammered” a few decades ago by losses to the textile industry: “I think there’s a bit of a nostalgia sometimes for the jobs the state used to rely on, but many haven’t noticed that lots of new jobs are benefiting the state.”
Like the rest of the country, South Carolina has suffered the loss of farming and blue-collar jobs — but it has benefited MORE than almost any other state from foreign investment. According to McClactchy Newspapers, focusing on creating new jobs through free trade would do more for the state than Trump’s protectionist policies. But what about cotton and textiles?
University of South Carolina economics professor John McDermott says, “They are never coming back. If these jobs are not in China or Mexico they’ll be somewhere else soon. It’s simply an era that is gone for good, so we’ve got to compete in the global marketplace and South Carolina has done a really great job at it.” Evidence is provided by huge factories and packed employee parking lots all around the state.
In 2014 alone, twelve hundred international firms from 42 countries invested five point one billion dollars into the Palmetto State. Another foreign automaker, Volvo selected South Carolina for its first American factory, investing $500 million in a facility in Berkeley County outside of Charleston that will create about 2500 good jobs.
And what about that BMW plant? Over 2,000,000 cars have rolled off its assembly line since it opened in 1994. And they are not done. That German automaker announced a new billion-dollar investment in its Spartanburg plant in 2016. A few years back, in 2010 that was the cumulative foreign investment from all foreign investors. If you were to ask one of the newly employed at these factories, they would say that kind of money is better than “High Cotton!”
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