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As the home of Michelin's North American headquarters and the only North American BMW assembly plant, South Carolina has been at the forefront of the southeast's recent transformation into the hub of America's automotive industry.  This distinction was further established in 2016 when Volvo announced that it would make the Charleston region its North American home.  Volvo immediately began construction on a production facility less than a mile from the Dorchester County line, and intends to begin production in 2018.

In addition to this momentous development Dorchester County and the Charleston region are already home to a number of automotive suppliers that make the area an ideal location for auto-related industrial development.  Cummins, a Charleston County manufacturer of turbo chargers is one of the many companies in the area that contributes to this growing cluster.

Industry Spotlight: Robert Bosch Corporation

Dorchester County has been anchored by the Robert Bosch Corporation since 1974, and is the County's largest, private employer. As a longtime veteran of the area, the Dorchester County plant was the first, large manufacturing site for Bosch in North America. With a growing workforce of over 2,000, the Bosch plant is primarily in the diesel, gasoline, and chassis systems businesses, manufacturing clean diesel injection products; unit injection products; gasoline, port, and direct fuel injection systems; antilock braking; and electronic stability control products. From first beginnings to present-day, the Bosch plant has grown substantially with the following measurable outputs:

  • Production volume has increased from $11 million to its peak at over $850 million
  • Floor space has grown tenfold from 90,000 square feet to 900,000 square feet
  • Investment has increased drastically from $4 million to over $600 million
  • Product line expansion announced in 2010 for an investment of $125 million and 300 new jobs

Attractive Assets

  • Volvo Car's North American production facility less than a mile over the county line
  • Proximity to major U.S. markets and the eastern one-third of the U.S. population
  • Access to the Port of Charleston and Interstates I-26 and I-95
  • Large labor pool of machinists, welders, and CNC operators
  • Proximity to the growing Southern Automotive Corridor along I-85
  • Existing industry cluster with a number of auto-related suppliers and manufacturers
  • Available sites and buildings

Training Opportunities & Education

The area's comprehensive workforce training opportunities, many of which are offered at little or no cost to qualifying companies, are also very appealing to automotive companies. For instance, readySC works with the state's 16 technical colleges to develop training curriculum at no cost to eligible employers to meet a company's specific workforce requirements.

Additionally, Trident Technical College (TTC) offers a variety of specialized trainings, as well as degree programs well-suited for the automotive industry that include mechanical fabrication and automated manufacturing. TTC's Division of Continuing Education and Economic Development also works with employers to customize programs to meet their specific workforce needs. Auto-related courses that are offered include:

  • CNC Operator/Machinist Training
  • CNC Operator Boot Camp Program
  • Lathe and Milling Machine Operation
  • Mechanical Blueprint Reading
  • Measuring Techniques

For more information on customizable training, contact TTC at (843) 574-6022.

As a testament to TTC's training abilities, Bosch has partnered with the school to establish an effective apprenticeship program that provides intensive training to its associates over a 24-30 month timeframe. Through this program, Bosch has successfully trained 300 associates and counting.

Fast Facts

  • In terms of employment, the automotive industry is the area's leading cluster.
  • Automotive companies looking to locate in Dorchester County will have access to South Carolina's network of more than 200 automotive suppliers.
  • Over the next several years, hybrid and fuel-efficiency will drive the automotive industry.
  • The industry is projected to average an annual industry growth rate of 5% through 2016.

Who's Already Doing Business Here