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It has been 20 years since BMW broke ground on its Spartanburg, SC manufacturing facility, and while the automaker doesn't have any plans to mark the moment, economists and industry analysts have taken a closer look at the facility's impact on South Carolina, the South and global manufacturing. As of November, the Spartanburg plant's 7,000 employees cranked out 25,000 vehicles per month, and BMW has poured some $6 billion into the state since the plant opened in 1993. While that figure nearly matches the state's proposed budget for next year, some say there have been drawbacks.

To begin with, South Carolina provided BMW with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of public money and tax breaks with little public oversight, setting a precedent that would repeat itself with other corporations. The Detroit News reports that a Pew Center evaluation found 26 states didn't have a sufficient system for evaluating tax incentive performance. But BMW opened the door for a Southern manufacturing renaissance, with automakers from Mercedes-Benz to Hyundai and Volkswagen opening plants in the Deep South.

While states have raced to offer ever sweeter tax and cash incentives for big manufacturers, officials say BMW is proof the system can pay dividends. You can read the full piece here.


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  • 33 Comments
      Fredgineer
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've just recently moved to the area. I work in the construction sector, and there is a very visible, palpable impact on the area, and it's not just the wide variety of quality german eateries and beer readily available. Construction here is booming, and the region has become a sort of Golden triangle because of a resurgence of industry and engineering jobs. BMW isn't the auto company here, down the road from them is the North American hq of Michelin, just down 85 from them is Nissan, down the road in Georgia, you've got Kia. Whatever benefits that had to be lent to lure BMW to the area, it has worked, and been to the benefit of the region. Whereas construction in many regions of the nation has simply stopped, there is such a glut that contractors and builders can command prices because there aren't enough workers to do the job. I've been here just a short while, but I can definitely see the benefit of a plant like this, in any area.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      That might explain the poor build quality of their vehicles.
      T-Mille
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMWs are too sophisticated for the Deep South.
        interruptive_cow
        • 2 Years Ago
        @T-Mille
        Similarly, making intelligent comments on autoblog is too sophisticated for you.
        brucec039
        • 2 Years Ago
        @T-Mille
        What an ignorant statement. This "unsophisticated" southerner has owned 3 of them so far. I guess you think it's cool to bash Southerners now like the Nazis did Jews in the 30's?
        Fredgineer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @T-Mille
        Much like fords, GM's and Honda are too sophisticated for the Rust Belt. I believe Trabant would be ideal for that region.
        tinted up
        • 2 Years Ago
        @T-Mille
        Assembling a vehicle is not hard on a production line. The hard part is designing and engineering the vehicle, and then getting the production process nailed down. The workers involved in assembly of the vehicle are simply doing things that a robot can not or takes too long to do.
      eye.surgeon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Asking the Detroit News what they think about the success of auto manufacturing in a right to work state? Hardly objective. Case in point: weighing the so-called cost of tax breaks for BMW against their contributions to the state economy. Those tax breaks are funds that the state never had and never would have had without BMW moving into the state. It cost the state NOTHING and they gained enormously both directly (tax revenue from the thousands of employed workers) and indirectly (lower unemployment with all the savings realized from less demand on social services for the unemployed). The only lower in the succss story of BMW in the south is union thugs.
        gop.hates.america
        • 2 Years Ago
        @eye.surgeon
        Mr. Eye Surgeon, perhaps you should read the article. BMW also got hundreds of millions of dollars of public money, i.e. the money SC already had. Also from the article: "But the plant likely would have been successful even if it hadn't gotten a dime of taxpayer money, said Ashley Landess, president of the South Carolina Policy Council." (FYI, that's a right wing group)
        T-Mille
        • 2 Years Ago
        @eye.surgeon
        You know the Detroit News is a Right-leaning periodical, right?
        miles
        • 2 Years Ago
        @eye.surgeon
        "It cost the state NOTHING" I'm pretty sure those taxes (that didn't get collected) would have been spent on something. Police, Fire, and various community services. Those services were still provided, but using money that come from elsewhere. Saying it cost the state nothing is rather naive, isn't it?
          Fredgineer
          • 2 Years Ago
          @miles
          The tax forfeit on the plant was reclaimed in the expansion of the tax base, in the form of better paid (or gainfully employed) workers, and they collected tax dollars on all the business enterprises that were a side effect of BMW coming to the area. One has to look at the larger scope of things. It cannot always be about instant gratification, It was about the small forfeit now, for the greater gain down the line.
          Val
          • 2 Years Ago
          @miles
          But without those tax breaks BMW wouldn't have come to the south most likely. So the state would have ended without the taxes, (same as after the plant was built) but with higher unemployment, no direct foreign investment ($6 billion that went into the plant). It would be nice if there was so much empllyment that the corporations had to pay the states to build a plant there, but as it stands, states are competing to offer incentives for companies to come there.
      tipdrip215
      • 2 Years Ago
      The power of good old right-to-work laws.
        TBN27
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tipdrip215
        To be honest i think right to work laws have nothing to do with it. I believe it is a combination. Of good treatment of the worker and the fact that the cost of living in the south is still low compared to the north. Also the tax breaks they get. Right to work is only effective in busting unions that still exist within corporations that already exist in those states. And that's if it has succeded in stopping that. Otherwise those plants would still be able to build in the south and not have to worry about unions if RTW wasn't even thought of. As an example, Hyundai ROTEM took over the old Budd Co. Factory to build commuter rail cars in Philadelphia. It was not unionized in a state where RTW doesn't exist. The plant ended up being unionized because the Korean managers were treating the workers like crap. The workers walked out, then they who wanted the union after their experience got them in there. Had they treated their workers better, they would've stayed non union. Google it.
        gop.hates.america
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tipdrip215
        more like - the power of right-to-being-one-of-the-poorest-state laws.
          brucec039
          • 2 Years Ago
          @gop.hates.america
          Yes, my wife, who leases equipment to BMW's plant there and makes $250K, is poverty stricken. The plant workers who tripled their old pay are doing terribly. And the $60K truck drivers who bring cars out to dealers are living in squalor. You're a dipshit.
      brucec039
      • 2 Years Ago
      There were some incomplete statements about taxes and income levels, but overall the column was balanced. Capital flows where it's treated best. The economically ignorant populace had better figure that out. Better a $20/hour job than no job. This is the new normal. Short of immigration bans, tariffs and economic isolation from the 3rd world, which neither political party seems to want, that's going to be the story over the next several decades. You cannot have your open borders and cheap immigrant labor, globalism's cheap imported goods, and an $80K job too. Deal with it. You made your beds at the ballot box, now lie in them. We had a good thing going here from the 50's-80's. We blew it. Your wage will now be impacted by the most illiterate, the least skilled, and the most desperate people in the world. That's your competition.
      Spartan
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm from SC and lived in the Spartanburg, SC area for a number of years. BMW was worth every penny, and no unions to worry about bleeding them dry either.
      VDuB
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dis is aMerica. Buy aMerican!!!
      gop.hates.america
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good for South Carolina. For once, they invested in the future, and created jobs.
      interruptive_cow
      • 2 Years Ago
      I went to college around here. It was always fun seeing camo'd test mules out and about around town.
      Luis A. Martinez
      • 2 Years Ago
      Got a BMW 3 series back on 2001 E36 1998 that the vin number start with one and that means USA build,was a great little car just as good as the German build and learn that on those E46 with the brown interior was build in South Africa too and no problem at all,know if you ask for the Mercedes ML is another story and is why they have to run and merge with jeep so they can finally get a acceptable SUV for sale and tried to sell and overprice base on Town and Country R class
        brucec039
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Luis A. Martinez
        I don't recall 3 series cars being made in the USA, especially then. Where was it made?
          SKINNY
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brucec039
          The BMW 3-series was definitely produced in Spartansburg, SC and I believe maybe the Z3 also. When the factory first opened the X5 was the only product that was built there. The factory was underutilized at the time due to the CUV and the X5 being in it's infancy stage. So they added 3-series production for I believe maybe around a year.
          CrunchyCookie98
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brucec039
          Yes, though only the weird/rare 95-99 318ti hatchback variant. Other than that, this plant has mostly been cranking out Z3s/Z4s and X5s.
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