Tight Industrial Market to Benefit from Growing Automotive Cluster

Key Takeaways

  • South Carolina’s industrial market continues to tighten with declining vacancy, increasing rental rates and growing demand for space.
  • Major investments from automotive manufacturers Volvo and Mercedes-Benz were announced during the first half of 2015.  Together, the manufacturers will be investing $1 billion and creating 5,300 jobs over the next decade in the Charleston region.
  • Speculative construction is gaining momentum as tenants seek move-in ready space.
  • Industrial employment is on the rise in South Carolina, nearing pre-recession levels but remains below the peak employment seen in the 1990s.
  • Strong activity is setting records for South Carolina’s ports.

Major Announcements Grow South Carolina’s Automotive Cluster

South Carolina’s existing automotive cluster, which includes more than 250 automotive-related companies, will soon grow.  Significant announcements were made by major automotive manufacturers Volvo Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans during the first half of 2015.  The manufacturers plan to invest a combined $1 billion and create 5,300 jobs over the next decade in the Charleston region.  

Mercedes-Benz Vans, a division of Daimler, announced plans earlier this year to invest $500 million in a new Sprinter van plant in Charleston and create 1,300 new jobs over the next several years.  Construction on the new plant is expected to begin in 2016.  The manufacturer is expanding its facility at 8501 Palmetto Commerce Parkway and will use the new plant to manufacture next-generation Sprinter vans to supply the North American market.  

Just two months after Mercedes-Benz Vans made their announcement, Volvo selected South Carolina for its first American manufacturing plant.  The $500 million facility will be located in Berkeley County and is expected to create 2,000 new direct jobs over the next decade and up to 4,000 jobs by 2030.  The facility will serve to manufacture the latest generation Volvo models for sale in the U.S. and other markets.  Volvo expects to complete the first vehicle at the plant in 2018.

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