Week of December 16, 2002
from Site Selection's exclusive New Plant database
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'Project Kudzu' Blooms:
Bosch Adding 200 Workers in $200M South Carolinaby JACK LYNE, Site Selection
Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing ANDERSON, South Carolina "Project Kudzu," which once seemed wilting, has taken root and is spreading out along South Carolina's business landscape. Auto-component powerhouse Robert Bosch (www.boschusa.com) has disclosed that it will undertake a $200-million expansion of its plant in Anderson, South Carolina (www.cityofandersonsc.com). The announcement came about a month after a premature public leak had seemingly put the project on very precarious footing.
The expansion, company officials said, will add 200 jobs at Bosch's Anderson plant, which currently employs 1,400 workers. The $200-million Palmetto State investment, which will be meted out over eight to 10 years, will double Bosch's previous total capital investment at the Anderson plant.
The company in 1985 initially opened the Bosch Anderson operation, which makes fuel-management components, electrical control units, oxygen sensors and wheel-speed sensors.
"Project Kudzu" Hits a KinkBosch's expansion was "possibly the worst-kept secret in the history of Anderson County - and one of the most delightful," County Attorney Tom Martin said at a December Anderson County Council meeting where the project finally took concrete form.
Bosch's secret, though, did seem sloppily kept; and that, the company found decidedly
Local speculation about a possible expansion began in August, when Bosch bought a 46-acre (19-hectare) plot of land. The purchased property adjoined the 83-acre (34-hectare) tract that was home to the auto-component supplier's existing campus in Anderson.
The rumor mill really hit warp speed, though, when construction permit approval for what was called "Project Kudzu" appeared on a proposed agenda for a November County Council meeting. Bosch, we only now know, was miffed at the leak, and it promptly let local officials know it. Without explanation, the agenda item was yanked before the public council meeting.
The mere mention, however, had opened the speculative flood gates. The company behind Kudzu, unnamed sources told the press, was Bosch, and the auto-industry giant was bringing a $200-million, 400-job expansion to Anderson. Bosh, said Bosch. The Gerlingen-Schillerhöhe, Germany-based company had no imminent plans for an expansion announcement, insisted Bosch officials in both Anderson and Farmington Hills, Mich. - home to the company's North American headquarters.
'Quiet Company' South Carolina's
"This investment reflects Bosch's ongoing commitment to the Anderson area and to South Carolina," Jim Tolson, commercial vice president for Bosch Anderson, commented in announcing the expansion. "Bosch has been a corporate citizen of South Carolina for more than 25 years, and the dedication and commitment of our associates at the Anderson facility have contributed to Bosch's steady growth."
Bosch - described as "a quiet company" by Wesley Strom, a lawyer with the Greenville firm of Sinclair, Haynesworth and Boyd, which handles some of the auto supplier's local legal affairs - didn't disclose whether any other sites were considered for the project.
The need for additional North American production capacity drove the expansion of the Anderson operation, Bosch's lead auto-electronics manufacturing facility on the continent, company officials explained. Bosch hasn't yet decided whether it will add any new products to the Anderson plant's line, they said.
Quiet Company, Big NoiseThe quiet company has made big noise in South Carolina. Statewide, Bosch employs 5,000 workers - a fifth of its entire North American work force.
"Bosch continues to be a powerhouse in terms of economic development for the state," Gov. Jim Hodges said of the company's latest South Carolina expansion.
"This reinforces once again the importance of existing industry to our county's continued economic success," said John Lummus, director of the Anderson County Development Partnership (www.andersonpartnership.com).
For the last two years, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce has chosen Bosch's Anderson operation as "Manufacturer of the Year" in the "large employer" category. The statewide manufacturing awards are based on product quality and improvement, proactive environmentalism, employee quality of life, community and professional involvement, and community partnerships.
Based on the past, the Anderson expansion may manufacture more than 200 new jobs, perhaps moving closer to the 400 employees predicted in the press leak. Bosch has exceeded its announced job and investment projections in the six South Carolina projects that Strom has worked on, the attorney said.
The job additions are particularly welcome news in Anderson County. In part due to job losses in the textile industry, the county's unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent in October - a monthly increase of almost 1 percent.
Project Getting Substantial
Bosch Anderson, for example, received approval from the Anderson County Council for a flat property-tax fee for the next eight years. The arrangement will tax the Anderson operation at a 4-percent rate, rather than a 10-percent rate, county officials said.
The county will also use a grant from the South Carolina Coordinating Council on Economic Development (www.teamsc.com) to relocate Scott's Bridge Road, which sits near the plant. In addition, Anderson County will fund access improvements at the plant's main entrance on State Road 81. Those entrance improvements will likely be funded by special-source revenue bonds financed through Bosch property taxes, county officials said.
Another incentive will come through Bosch's successful application for the Anderson operation to be categorized as a "multi-county industrial park." That designation means that the campus in Northwest South Carolina will qualify for five years for job-creation tax credits of $2,500 for each new employee. That's $1,000 more than the typical state job-creation credit.
Bosch also has South Carolina operations in the cities of Charleston, Sumter and Fountain Inn. The company, which has 220,000 employees worldwide, first came to the state in 1975, when it opened its Fountain Inn plant.
©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.