Canadian automotive supplier Magna International on Tuesday officially broke ground on its new $29 million seating plant in Spartanburg County.
The 230,000-square-foot facility is under construction on about 20 acres between Anderson Mill and Monroe roads off Highway 290 in Moore within Pacolet Milliken’s Tyger River Industrial Park North. It is expected to open in June and will create 480 jobs.
Company officials joined with state and local leaders to celebrate the investment, which will be Magna’s fourth facility in South Carolina, during a ceremony at the future site. The plant will initially produce seats for BMW’s next-generation X5 and X6 models, as well as the new X7 that will also be assembled in Spartanburg.
“This is a new chapter in the ongoing collaboration between Magna and BMW, as it’s our first seating business award with this valued global customer,” said Mike Bisson, president of Magna, in a statement. “With this investment and job creation, we are extremely pleased to join the growing automotive industry in South Carolina.”
Steve Salvatore, Magna’s plant manager for Spartanburg, said the company chose the site for a couple of reasons, including its proximity to BMW Manufacturing Co., easy access to interstates 85 and 26, and its nearby network of suppliers.
He said Magna has already begun hiring for the new positions and directed those interested to the company’s careers page online. The company plans to engage with Spartanburg Community College to fill key roles in the plant and to continue developing its workforce.
Salvatore said under Magna’s current partnership with BMW, he anticipates producing 1.2 million seat sets.
Carter Smith, executive vice president of the Economic Futures Group, said many of the automaker’s suppliers have invested in facilities in Spartanburg solely to serve BMW, but have expanded their business with BMW and, in some cases, other automotive manufacturers in the U.S. He said he hopes Magna will have the same success.
“We’re very excited to be here today,” Salvatore said. “Under the current program, we’re only going to build seats only for BMW… But we feel like there is room for growth.”
Charlotte, N.C.-based SunCap Property Group owns the property and will develop the site for Magna.
BMW’s supplier network officials Werner Schmaderer and Franz Linner took part in Magna’s groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.
Schmaderer said it felt like a groundbreaking not only for Magna, but also for BMW’s new X models. Magna’s selection as a supplier of the new seats began more than three years ago, he said.
Linner said, aside from the engine, the seating system is the most expensive part of the car. And the seats that Magna will be making for BMW will be top-of-the-line in terms of comfort and technologies.
“When you first sit down in a car, [seats] help define the experience and the feel for the driver and passenger,” Schmaderer said. “You have to get that right.”
Magna’s operations span the globe and include 155,000 employees. The company automotive parts include body, chassis, exterior, seating, powertrain, electronic, vision, closure and roof systems and modules. The company also does contract manufacturing.
In South Carolina, Magna currently employs about 1,500 people.
Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt said since BMW first announced its plan to build a plant in the Spartanburg in 1992, $16 billion in new investment has flowed into the county and created more than 20,000 new jobs. He said it is a testament to the citizens of Spartanburg.
“We have the best workforce, not only in the state, but in the entire world,” Britt said.
S.C. Sec. of Commerce Bobby Hitt praised Magna’s decision to locate its facility in Spartanburg County and its partnership with BMW. He also lauded the county and its partners involved in landing the project, including Greenville-based Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, the owner of Tyger River Industrial Park, and John Montgomery, principal of Montgomery Development Group, as well as Garrett Scott, Givens Stewart and Brockton Hall with Colliers International.
“If we have a project in Spartanburg County… I worry very little about how the project is going to turn out because I know what Spartanburg County will do,” Hitt said. “I look forward to watching this new plant succeed.”
Smith said Magna’s decision to locate in the county is another example of the teamwork in Spartanburg between government entities and private groups.
“That’s really the crux of it,” Smith said. “The ability of a community to understand what product is needed and then to go out there and provide it.”
For more information, visit www.magna.com.
Top: Rendering by GPN Architecture