BMW Manufacturing Co. has begun work on another addition to its manufacturing facility in Greer. The automaker is building a 527,000-square-foot body shop. Crews work on the expansion on August 5.
Foster did not say whether the facility will be used to house X7 production, rather that it will be used to “accommodate future capacity.”
She said the company will construct a 1,800-foot conveyor that will transfer welded bodies from the body shop to the main building for finishing, painting and assembly.Construction and tooling is scheduled to be completed in 2017, Foster said.
The company also will build a visitor parking lot with more than 120 spaces around the Zentrum. The project should be completed in October, she said.
Foster said when the new lot is completed, the current visitor lot will be used for additional associate parking.
“Since we are adding 800 new jobs by 2016, we need additional parking spaces,” she said.
Last March, the automaker said the expansion will boost BMW Manufacturing Co.’s output by 50 percent to 450,000 cars a year and increase the plant’s workforce to almost 9,000 associates, making it the world’s largest BMW factory.
The local plant, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, is the “center of competence” for BMW’s X model lineup, including the X3, X4, X5 and X6. It produced 32,478 vehicles in July, according to the company.
It boasts more than 5 million square feet of production space on a 1,150-acre campus, as well as its own Energy Center, on-site Family Health Center and 24-hour security and firefighting departments. BMW has invested nearly $7 billion in the plant to date, the company said.
About two-thirds of the vehicles produced at the plant are shipped to more than 140 markets worldwide.
The plant was named the nation’s top automotive exporter in 2014. Its exports totaled $9.2 billion last year, a 13 percent increase compared with its 2013 value, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.In March, the plant celebrated the completion of its 3-millionth vehicle since production began in 1994.
The South Carolina Ports Authority announced in February plans to build a 60,000-square-foot site operations center for BMW next to the plant’s main entrance near the intersection of Highway 101 and Interstate 85.
“What is so exciting is that the fact that this validates their decision in 1992 to build their first plant outside of Germany in South Carolina,” said David Britt, Spartanburg County councilman. “It was a leap of faith… We have become the No. 1 plant for BMW in the world. Make no mistake, we build the finest automobiles in the world.”
Britt praised local residents for their resiliency in the wake of the textile industry’s demise.BMW’s expansion was one of several large projects announced during 2014, including Toray’s new $1 billion carbon fiber plant in Moore and a new Bass Pro Shops store across from the BMW plant.
In total, the county landed 14 projects last year worth nearly $2.4 billion and 2,114 jobs.
The momentum has continued this year with several more projects announced, including Rite Aid’s Southeast distribution center, Kobelco’s excavator plant and Dollar Tree’s distribution center at Upstate Corporate Park, an industrial park shared by Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.
“BMW changed South Carolina,” Britt said. “We became an international community, county and state because of them… We have proven to the world that this is the place to do business. It doesn’t matter if you are making the world’s-finest carbon fiber or world’s-finest excavators. This is the place to do business. And that is because of our people.”
Britt said there are more economic development projects in the pipeline. He expects to see BMW’s investment in Spartanburg continue.
“I predict more great things to come for Spartanburg with BMW,” he said. “I think they will do more and more in their growth than we can probably dream of.”
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