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Multinational Manufacturing Giants Opening More Plants In South Carolina

MARTIN: On this Labor Day weekend, we're going to take you to one place in this country where factory jobs are increasing, South Carolina. Their multinational manufacturing giants are opening plants and expanding. South Carolina Public copy Van Cleef & Arpels necklace yellow Radio's Alexandra Olgin reports.

OLGIN: This is where engines and transmissions are being put into vans that have been shipped here from Germany. This plant, with 230 workers, is on track to more than double in size by 2020. Ground has already been broken for the expansion.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 6: Into the dirt 1, 2, 3.

OLGIN: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, along with Mercedes executives in black hardhats pushed shovels into soil earlier this summer for the half billion dollar project.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NIKKI HALEY: Mercedes Benz vans chose South Carolina to be their only spot in the United States to manufacture these vans of excellence.

OLGIN: Mercedes Benz is just one of several international companies with plants in the state. BMW has a large facility in Spartanburg. And Volvo is building a factory close to Charleston. Large domestic manufacturers like Boeing have also moved to South Carolina.

In all, the state has nearly 240,000 workers in the manufacturing sector, a 16 percent increase in just six years. So why is the state with less than 5 million people attracting so much business? One reason state backed worker training programs.

Consultant Mark Sweeney negotiates with states on behalf of companies looking to fake Van Cleef & Arpels clover jewelry cheap relocate. He says South Carolina's network of technical colleges is a big draw.

MARK SWEENEY: We interview a lot of companies as we are evaluating locations. And we have yet to hear a single company saying anything negative about that particular program. It's very, very effective.

OLGIN: There's another big factor. South Carolina has the lowest union membership in the country, with only 2 percent of its workers organized. Union officials say that for a Boeing machinist, wages are considerably lower than in Washington state, where aircraft workers are largely unionized.

And South Carolina has other advantages, the Charleston port, good weather and elected leaders who, in recent years, have stayed away from the polarizing social issues that have hurt North Carolina's reputation with some businesses.

And then there are the tax breaks for big employers. For example, Boeing has gotten tax incentives estimated to Van Cleef & Arpels alhambra necklace fake be worth nearly $1 billion over time.

OLGIN: But all those tax breaks and fast growth can have a downside. Many people complain about a lack of state spending on roads to keep pace with the increase in commuters.

CHRIS JONES: When the plant first opened, it wasn't so bad. At any time now, it's really, really congested.

OLGIN: That's 43 year old Chris Jones. He's an aircraft inspector at Boeing. State lawmakers passed a measure to start funding some road repairs. But critics say it's much less than what is needed.

JONES: The infrastructure here wasn't really prepared for what they have to deal with.

OLGIN: Jones is referring to the Charleston metro area's growth tied to manufacturing. Wells Fargo economists predict that next year, the Palmetto State's economy will grow at nearly double the national rate. For NPR News, I'm Alexandra Olgin reporting from Charleston.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary.

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