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Photo by: Alex Hicks, Jr./Spartanburg Herald-Journal
By Bob Montgomery, Staff Writer
BMW Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger said Monday that his company will invest another $600 million in Plant Spartanburg and create another 1,000 jobs here over the next four years.
That will bring the BMW workforce in Spartanburg County to more than 10,000 people, Krueger said at the company’s celebration of 25 years in Upstate South Carolina. The Spartanburg County plant is the biggest car producer by volume for BMW.
The German automaker already has invested $8 billion since it announced it was coming to Spartanburg on June 22, 1992. The plant began production in 1994.
And after a quarter-century of success in South Carolina, BMW has no intention of slowing down, Krueger told hundreds of guests and workers Monday.
“Isn’t this the great success story?” asked Krueger, who oversees the company’s worldwide operations. “The United States is clearly our second home, and I can feel it in my heart.”
BMW also will invest another $200 million over the next five years for training and education at the Spartanburg plant, and the company plans to roll out a national training program.
“We will keep investing in our people and business in the United States,” Krueger said. “Our footprint will continue to grow.”
The centerpiece of Monday’s celebration was the unveiling of BMW’s new X3 compact crossover, which will be manufactured in Spartanburg along with current X3, X4, X5 and X6 models.
BMW spokesman Steve Wilson said the latest expansion will include the re-tooling of many production areas, and that when the current $1.2 billion body shop expansion is completed, all the X models will be built in the new body shop. Other parts of the plant will be readied for production of more electric vehicles, he said.
Last year, 25,000 electric vehicles were made in Spartanburg, a number Krueger said will continue to rise. And production of the new X7 sport utility vehicle will start by 2018.
BMW Manufacturing President and CEO Knudt Flor, who oversees the Spartanburg plant, opened Monday’s event thanking the company’s dealers, suppliers, customers and employees for making the decision to build in Spartanburg 25 years ago a successful one.
“It’s about quality of product, process and most importantly quality of the people,” he said.
Republican S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster said he recalled in the early 1990s when many people opposed giving BMW tax breaks to build its plant in South Carolina.
He said all major decisions carry some risk, and he credited former Gov. Carroll Campbell and early supporters like Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt and S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt for defying the doubters and landing the company.
“I could not be more proud of this company,” McMaster said. “This company has changed everything in the trajectory of our state (and) created a manufacturing renaissance in South Carolina that is unequal anywhere else in the United States.”
U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said the United States should continue to support free trade and cut the corporate tax rate for companies that invest in the U.S.
“BMW has been good for South Carolina, and I’d like to think South Carolina’s been good for BMW,” Graham said. He said his message to BMW is, “We’re going to keep taxes low, provide you with a quality workforce and say thank-you every day.”