Under the Dome

Report: NC, Volvo in talks on auto plant

Volvo is said to be looking at North Carolina – and any incentives it might get – for a plant as the Swedish car maker angles for a resurgence in the United States, according a report Wednesday in the British newspaper Financial Times.

The publication cited two unnamed sources claiming knowledge of company plans to establish a new U.S. manufacturing site.

It follows the appointment of a new head of Volvo’s North American operations who would, according to the newspaper’s sources, oversee the facility’s opening as the company looks to recover from slipping U.S. sales.

Volvo has talked with the legislatures of states including Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina about incentives that may be available for the project, the sources claimed.

Incentivizing business has been a major focus lately for Gov. Pat McCrory, who has repeatedly argued North Carolina needs a fresh and competitive incentives program that he can flaunt to large-scale companies considering expanding in the state. The state’s main vehicle for issuing corporate incentives, the Job Development Investment Grant, is depleted after issuing millions in grants over the past two years.

Volvo’s presence in North Carolina includes its Volvo Trucks North American corporate headquarters in Greensboro. It has a truck assembly plant in Dublin, Va., about two hours north of Greensboro. Volvo is owned by China-based Geely.

McCrory was in the United Kingdom last week on a job recruiting trip along with new Commerce Sec. John Skvarla and Christopher Chung, the new head of the public-private Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. A spokesman for the governor has declined to be more specific about that trip.

Asked specifically whether the recent trip relates to Volvo, spokesman Josh Ellis responded: “It was an economic development trip.”

Chung also declined to be more specific about the target of the trip. “I know we made a very good pitch to the company,” he said.

The McCrory administration has been clear that it is on the hunt for a “catalyst-for-jobs” factory along the lines of an auto plant. Automakers are widely forecast to be adding production capacity. The state has at least three sites in various stages of readiness for an auto plant, including one near Siler City.