Work can now begin on Volvo Cars’ North American automotive campus in Berkeley County.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District issued a permit to Berkeley County on Friday, enabling the development of Volvo’s advanced manufacturing and assembly facility off Interstate 26 near Ridgeville.
Berkeley County filed the permit application with the Charleston District in April on behalf of Volvo under the code name “Project Soter.” Negotiations were still underway as Georgia and South Carolina officials competed for the automotive plant.
Volvo and state officials announced on May 11 that Berkeley County would be the location for its first American factory. The company plans to invest $500 million in the site and employ up to 2,000 people there over the next decade. The company has not yet announced what models will be built there.
According to the permit, the project will be completed in two phases. Phase 1 includes building administrative offices, a visitor’s center and a manufacturing and assembly facility that will employ 2,000 people.
Phase 2 proposes a second manufacturing and assembly facility that will employ an additional 2,000 people.
Construction will begin in early fall, with the first vehicles expected to roll off the assembly line in 2018. The plant will have the initial capacity to produce up to 100,000 cars per year.
Construction of the automotive campus will impact about 215 acres of wetlands at the Camp Hall Tract. The mitigation plan involves acquiring, preserving, restoring and enhancing about 1,500 acres of wetlands in the Dean Swamp and Walnut Branch watersheds and Four Hole Swamp tributaries.
The National Audubon Society defined these areas as priorities in need of protection.
Lt. Col. John Litz, Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District commander, released a statement about the permit:
“Issuing the permit for the Volvo facility will be a great economic driver for Berkeley County and the state of South Carolina, and includes important conservation properties within the Four Hole Swamp ecosystem, which has national and international significance. We believe that we made the right decision for this project by balancing the economic needs of the area with the environmental responsibility of being the nation’s environmental engineer.”