COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Samsung is investing $380 million in South Carolina to manufacture home appliances, creating an estimated 950 jobs over the next three years, state and company officials announced Wednesday.
The South Korean-based company is opening a "state-of-the-art" facility in the former Caterpillar plant in Newberry. Production is expected to start early next year. "Premium home appliances" made at the plant will include washing machines and will be sold primarily in the United States, the company said in a news release.
The announcement came hours after new South Korean President Moon Jae-in left for the United States for meetings with President Donald Trump. Samsung Electronics CEO B.K. Yoon signed the company's plans Wednesday morning in Washington with Gov. Henry McMaster.
A celebratory event was to be held in Newberry later Wednesday.
"This new investment will enable Samsung to increase the speed with which we can deliver premium home appliances that reflect the regional preferences of our fastest-growing and most important consumer market," Yoon said.
Company officials began considering expanding its U.S. production nearly three years ago and launched talks with South Carolina officials last fall, the company said.
Samsung already operates a call center employing 800 people in Greenville County, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.
Rural Newberry County is home to fewer than 40,000 people. Caterpillar announced in April 2016 it was closing its 325-employee electric generator packaging facility in Newberry to consolidate production in other states. At the time, it was one of Newberry County's largest employers and taxpayers.
Samsung's decision "is one that will change the very fabric of the Newberry community," McMaster said. "Samsung will now be an important partner in ushering in an unprecedented period of economic growth and prosperity in our state."
The board of Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned utility, approved a $2.75 million grant for Samsung on Monday, said spokeswoman Mollie Gore. The plant will be powered by Newberry Electric Cooperative, which gets its power from Santee Cooper.
Other incentives offered by South Carolina are not public information until an agreement with Samsung is completed and signed, which can take up to a year, according to the state Commerce Department.
The high-tech plant will employ engineers and a variety of technical and non-technical workers, the company said.
It's the second large economic development announcement for South Carolina this week.
On Monday, BMW announced plans to invest an additional $600 million in an expansion, creating 1,000 new jobs over the next four years. The German automaker has already invested $8 billion in South Carolina since deciding to locate in Spartanburg County 25 years ago.
Last week, Siemens Corp. announced it was providing the University of South Carolina with an estimated $628 million worth of computers, robotics and unlimited licensing on the latest software to give students hands-on training for today's high-tech manufacturing jobs. Part of the in-kind grant will create a "digital factory innovation lab" at the university.
Samsung said the company's reasons for choosing South Carolina included its trained workforce, the state's long record of recruiting and retaining other international companies, and access to the Charleston port.