Raleigh, N.C. — Rival states have again beaten out North Carolina as a future destination for a major car manufacturing plant, according to multiple news reports.
Citing anonymous sources, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Reuters report Volvo Cars culled its list of plant locations to South Carolina and Georgia. The company was reportedly looking to join a number of other companies with factories in the Southeast, including BMW in South Carolina and Mercedes-Benz in Alabama.
Graham Wilson, spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, declined to comment Tuesday. Department officials, as well as Gov. Pat McCrory, have also declined to say in the past whether the state was under serious consideration for the plant.
"We can't comment on any potential businesses that may be locating here," Wilson said.
But there's no doubt state officials have long coveted a major auto plant for North Carolina, which would bring both jobs and spur economic growth through suppliers. Former Commerce officials even attribute North Carolina's two decade-long buildup of incentives programs to the loss of a giant Mercedes plant to Alabama in 1993.
That build-up may continue if McCrory gets his way.
For months, the governor and Commerce Secretary John Skvarla have said they need better tools to recruit large companies to the state and boost job growth.
Lawmakers have taken up the issue this legislative session as one of state's largest incentive programs, the Job Development Investment Grant, is set to sunset. A major component of a state House bill approved last month – spurred by the possibility of a new auto plant – would expand and extend that program, meaning a potential $900 million liability over 15 years.
But a competing state Senate bill takes a different tack, recalculating corporate taxes, retooling JDIG and refunding taxes for companies that invest more than $1 billion in infrastructure and hire more than 2,500 workers. That threshold matches the scale of many large-scale car manufacturers.
McCrory has blasted the Senate version, saying it "breaks the promises of last year's tax reform." The measure has been stalled in the Senate for almost a month.