This week, Gov. McCrory showed us that he’s pretty good at making a stealth recovery after falling out of a chair in front of a room full of people. Something he’s less good at: wooing auto manufacturers to open up factory locations in North Carolina.
Volvo is the latest car company to drop North Carolina from its list of choice locations to build a $500 million factory, according to a report in the Greensboro News & Record. Embarrassingly, South Carolina and Georgia are rumored to still be in the running.
North Carolina is the only Southern state without an auto manufacturing plant . Officials in the Triad area have been developing 1,800 acres in northeastern Randolph County—called the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite— for an auto plant to set up shop. In Siler City, the 1,818-acre Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site “is being actively marketed to an auto assembler,” according to a representative from the Chatham Economic Development Corporation.
McCrory has been courting Volvo—2014 travel records obtained by the INDY show him entertaining three Volvo executives in Siler City in September.
Last year, North Carolina lost out trying to recruit a Mercedes-Benz USA operation, which was relocating to the South from New Jersey; Georgia outbid us by about $7 million, so Mercedes went there. Also last year, Toyota chose a Texas site for its North American headquarters, over Charlotte.
Coincidentally, McCrory has been busy lightly bemoaning a bill in the General Assembly known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Sweden, where Volvo comes from, has some of the most progressive LGBT rights laws in the world, including legalized same-sex marriage and a Constitution that explicitly bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
A similar religious freedom bill just died in Georgia again; amid serious outcry from the business community, Georgia lawmakers just can’t seem to get this terrible legislation to pass.
But, as we’ve pointed out, North Carolina doesn’t need religious freedom bill to be anti-LGBT. Maybe the Volvo folks just didn’t see North Carolina as a great fit.