South Carolina Governor visits Germany, a key driver of the state’s economy

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster is traveling to Germany next week to Business relationships which fuelled the economic boom of this century in the formerly crisis-ridden southern state.

The governor is an invited guest at the TDI conference, also known as German Industry Day. McMaster will deliver a keynote address on South Carolina's relationship with German companies and participate in a panel discussion, said South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey.

“South Carolina was the pioneer in reaching out to companies around the world and getting them to come here,” Lightsey said. “That was really the backbone of South Carolina's growth story.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, South Carolina ranks second in the U.S. behind Delaware in a population-adjusted index that tracks foreign companies with offices in the U.S.

And German companies are the most strongly represented in South Carolina worldwide: they employ around 44,000 people in 262 companies, or about 2 percent of the state's total working population.

During his five-day stay in Germany, which begins on Sunday, McMaster also plans to visit the headquarters of two major automakers with large holdings in South Carolina.

In Munich, he will meet executives from BMW, which built a plant in Greer in 1994 that continues to expand to more than 11,000 workers today. It ushered in a wave of foreign automakers building factories in the south and strengthened the state against the rapid relocation of the textile industry overseas and to Mexico.

Another stop is Wolfsburg, where McMaster will visit the Volkswagen headquarters. Volkswagen is the parent company of Scout Motors The company is building a plant near Columbia to produce electric SUVs. The company expects to open in 2027 and will employ up to 4,000 people.

“CEOs want to meet with CEOs. Governor McMaster is the CEO of our state,” the Department of Commerce said in a statement.

McMaster also plans to meet with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the German finance minister, Lightsey said.

McMaster will return to South Carolina on Thursday, while Lightsey plans to stay a few more days for additional meetings.

Last year, around 1,700 politicians, business managers, scientists and others attended the TDI conference.

Anna Harden

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