The German upscale automaker Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) originated in 1916 as an aviation-engine manufacturing company. The company expanded to produce motorcycles and automobiles in 1923 and 1929, respectively. In 1994 BMW opened its first complete automobile manufacturing line outside Germany in Greer, South Carolina.
Spartanburg County won a major recruiting battle over BMW’s first non-Bavarian factory on June 23, 1992, when the company chose Greer over approximately 250 other localities around the world. BMW’s decision was hailed both locally and internationally as the crowning achievement of the South Carolina Piedmont’s campaign for international industrial recruitment.
The company came to South Carolina largely because of the state’s industrial training program, which secured access to labor trained according to BMW’s specific needs and requirements. Additionally, South Carolina’s transportation infrastructure with railroads, highways, and deep-water ports provided BMW with quick access to North American and global markets. Also, Spartanburg agreed to buy out previous inhabitants and provide an eight-hundred-acre tract of land that BMW wanted near the airport, adjacent to Interstate 85.
The Greer factory started in 1994 by producing BMW’s 318i models but expanded to Z3 roadsters in 1995 and X5 sports activity vehicles in 1999. BMW has continuously expanded its Greer factory both in size and production. By 2001 its capital investment in the region had grown to $1.9 billion. The factory covers 2.3 million square feet and employs more than 4,000 people. The factory’s suppliers employ approximately 7,200 workers in the state.