South Carolina turning into a sweet spot for plastics growth

Comments Email Print
BMW AG Door assembly at BMW AG's Spartanburg, S.C., plant. The German automaker is part of the surge of manufacturing in the state.

The Palmetto State has become a sweet spot for manufacturing. Several new or expanding injection molding facilities have appeared in South Carolina in recent months, largely feeding into the state’s growing automotive industry.

Automotive companies have become a widespread presence in the state, their growth signposted with the arrival of BMW two decades ago. The German automaker’s Spartanburg plant has expanded over the years to become its largest worldwide, with its latest $1 billion investment completing this year.

Volvo Car USA also picked the state for Volvo Cars’ first American factory and Daimler AG announced it will build Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans there.

The supply industry that has sprung up around the influx of automotive manufacturing continues to expand, including Tier 1 suppliers, plastics processors, recyclers and distributors.

Injection molder Engineered Plastic Components, encouraged by strong growth in the Southeastern U.S., is adding new operations in South Carolina along with expanding its Leeds, Ala., facility. Baxter Enterprises and sister company Hi-Tech Mold & Engineering are setting up new operations in the state at a $20.7 million investment. China’s Jiangnan Mould & Plastic Technology Co. Ltd. is establishing its first U.S. facility in Greer, S.C., and the state also recently attracted two German entrepreneurs, who announced plans to set up an injection molding operation called WG Plastics initially targeting German OEMs and their Tier 1 suppliers. Several other injection molders have announced expanded capacity in the region.

South Carolina’s status as a right-to-work state along with its logistics infrastructure of seaports and rail lines make it an attractive location to set up shop. And the state has earnestly courted prospective new business with outreach programs and financial incentives.

“We try to have our suppliers for our OEMs set up as closely as they possibly can to the companies that they are supplying,” said a state department of commerce spokeswoman. “Our state is a very small state, but we are also a state that houses three premiere automotive manufacturers.”

In 2015 the state attracted $3.6 billion in capital investment in the manufacturing sector, according to the department of commerce. There are more than 400 plastics, composites, and rubber manufacturing companies and suppliers across the state.

“Every time you turn around there’s another company coming into South Carolina,” said Richard Martin, business development manager at mold maker JMMS Inc. of Easley, S.C., which is celebrating its 30th year in the state. “The state has really figured out how to do business here. So it’s got a good infrastructure, and the government is empathetic to business. They get it. I think they do a great job.”